Russian regulator Rostechnadzor has issued a permit for the pilot operation of unit 1 of the Novovoronezh II plant in an extended fuel cycle mode of 18 months. The reactor has been loaded with fresh nuclear fuel manufactured by the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant ready for the new cycle.
The VVER-1200 unit, also known as Novovoronezh 6, previously operated in a 12-month fuel cycle.
"The introduction of a new fuel cycle will significantly reduce the total duration of repairs at the power unit, increase the utilisation rate of its installed capacity and ensure an increase in electricity generation," Yevgeny Golubev, head of the department of nuclear safety and reliability of the Novovoronezh NPP, said. 
The pilot operation phase will last about three years, after which a decision will be made on the final transition to the 18-month fuel cycle. A similar procedure is planned at Novovoronezh 7 and the experience will also inform Rosatom’s VVER-1200 projects overseas. 
In October 2019, Novovoronezh 7 became the third and latest VVER-1200 to be commissioned, following Novovoronezh 6 and Leningrad II-1, which were launched in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Source: World Nuclear News