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Armenia aims to build up its nuclear potential as Yerevan discusses plans to construct a nuclear power plant with several countries. The Armenian Government says the Russian project is the most elaborated among the options under consideration.
This was announced by Karen Sarkisyan, an advisor to the Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of Armenia, at a panel discussion on the country’s nuclear energy prospects, Sputnik news agency reports. The discussion was organized by Rosatom and the Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure.
According to Sarkisyan, Russia has prepared a pre-feasibility study for a nuclear power plant with a VVER-1200 reactor to be built in Armenia. He explained it was a Generation III+ design with multi-level safety systems. Rosatom builds reactors of the same design in Russia and other countries, such as Turkey, Hungary and Egypt.
Sarkisyan noted that Yerevan had little time left to choose a nuclear technology vendor as construction of a nuclear power plant will require 10 years at least, preceded by extensive preparations.
“I think the decision will be made in the near future, all the more so as the Russian pre-feasibility study is ready while the other parties have not presented it yet,” Sputnik quotes Sarkisyan as saying.
Karen Sarkisyan also noted that if no new capacity was built Armenia would not be able to supply its domestic power needs after the operating nuclear station in Metsamor was decommissioned, and if the country planned to continue exporting electricity to Iran and Georgia the new reactor should have a capacity of at least 1,000 MW. “The generating capacity of 1,200 MW will fit into the Armenian energy system, while the maximum power supplies to Iran might reach 1,000 MW with the transfer capability of 1,200 MW,” the speaker said.
Armenia is considering other designs as well. According to the minister’s advisor, a working group has been set up under the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure to discuss the specifics of French, South Korean, American and other possible technology designs.
For now, Armenia operates the only 440 MW nuclear reactor at Unit 2 of the Armenian NPP providing over 30% of the domestic electricity needs. Its design life expired in 2016 but, following a sweeping upgrade and retrofitting program with input from Rosatom, the service life of Unit 2 was extended by 10 years. The reactor unit now operates at 100% of its thermal capacity, rather than 92% as before the upgrade.
In mid-September, the Armenian government approved a program to extend the life of the power unit No. 2 of the Armenian NPP until 2036 and a plan for organizing and implementing the activities provided for in this program. Re-equipment works and safety case studies have already started and will be finished by 2026.
This summer, Unit 2 underwent annual preventive maintenance. According to the press service of the Armenian NPP, measures were taken to improve operational safety of the plant. Both nuclear plant employees and experts from other countries, including Russia, were engaged in the maintenance and repairs, which included the replacement of pump piping, improvement of the containment leak tightness, installation of a new air cooling system for the boron unit, dismantling and installation of circulation pipes to cooling tower No. 1, and other works.
As part of the service life extension program for Unit 2, the valves installed at the reactor unit were replaced with new-type valves, and so were air cooling system components in the containment area. In addition, auxiliary equipment was installed at turbine generators No. 3 and No. 4.