An official ceremony was held in late October in the Iranian province of Bushehr to mark the start of earthwork at the site of Bushehr NPP Unit 2.
The construction process was officially kicked off by Alexei Likhachev, CEO of Rosatom, and Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President of Iran and Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. Prior to the beginning of the ceremony, they visited the operating reactor unit of Bushehr NPP, which has become a symbol of the Russian-Iranian cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear power. The unit, which was left unfinished by the previous contractor, was completed by Russian engineers who used original know-how and VVER solutions and trained the local personnel. The reactor unit was the first in the Middle East and without peer on the global scale. Operating since 2011, it has proved to be totally reliable.
Addressing the people present at the ceremony, Rosatom’s CEO said that the joint experience would help engineers from the two countries solve any task within the Bushehr II project. “This largest Russian-Iranian project is definitely a symbol of our cooperation both for our generation and the generation of our children. By now, Bushehr Unit 1 has generated almost 25 billion kWh of electric power. It is a sizable contribution to the Iranian economy as it allows saving money and investing it in the social and industrial development of the country,” Alexei Likhachev said.
“We are witnessing the start of earthwork at the site of the second reactor unit. The work is on time and slightly ahead of schedule. I hope that we will witness the commissioning of Unit 2 in seven years, followed by Unit 3 in two more years,” said Ali Akbar Salehi who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
According to the contract for Bushehr II signed in November 2014, Russia will construct two new reactors with a total capacity of 2,100 MW near the operating unit. Russian-designed VVER-1000 units belong to Generation III and meet the strictest post-Fukushima safety standards. The foundation stone ceremony was held in September 2016 followed by on-site preparations. The start of earthwork marks a new stage of Bushehr II construction project.
Apart from Bushehr
According to Alexei Likhachev, Rosatom and Iran are ready to discuss low and medium capacity modular reactors. “Other products we offer – nuclear medicine and solutions for agriculture, material science and water desalination – are no less important. We also provide maintenance services for non-nuclear power plants. If our Iranian partners are interested in these products and services, we could establish a local center to promote Rosatom’s offering in this important region,” Rosatom’s CEO said. According to Alexei Likhachev, cooperation areas are many and include staff training and joint research programs.
In his turn, Ali Akbar Salehi said that a 1,000 MW unit saved 11,000 barrels of oil, preventing almost 7 million tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere. “Most of our country is a desert; these specifics make us think of small capacity reactors. If we construct only large capacity units, we will be restricted to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea and then have to transmit power to other regions of the country. It is quite costly, so I was glad to hear about low and medium capacity solutions offered by Rosatom. We will continue discussing these opportunities,” he added.