Another 10 Years Ahead
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#272December 2023

Another 10 Years Ahead

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Armenia set about implementing a life extension project for the country’s only nuclear power plant. In the meantime, a vigorous debate is underway about the construction of a new power reactor, possibly of Russian design.

The work to extend the life of the Armenian NPP for another ten years until 2036 has entered an operational phase. This was announced by Gnel Sanosyan, Armenia’s Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, in a talk with reporters, ARKA news agency wrote.

“With a number of legal and bureaucratic processes completed and government decisions made, we are entering an implementation phase,” the minister emphasized.

At present, the 400 MW Armenian nuclear power plant provides over 30 % of the country’s electricity needs. Its design life expired in 2016. Following a sweeping upgrade and retrofitting program with input from Rosatom, the service life of the nuclear power plant was extended by 10 years. In mid-­September, the Armenian Government approved a new program to extend the plant’s life for another decade until 2036.

“One more goal we have is to use this entire period to work on the project of a new power unit so that it will be ready for operation by the time when the service life of the operating plant expires. This work is also underway,” Gnel Sanosyan said.

Nuclear energy is a critical component of the country’s Energy Security Strategy 2040, UN National Energy Expert Ara Marjanyan said, commenting on the statement by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, ArmInfo reports. Pashinyan noted earlier that Armenia aimed to build a new reactor and was holding talks with Russia, the United States, and South Korea.

Marjanyan recalled in this connection that the American company NuScale Power, with which the negotiations were actually held, had recently canceled its first-of-a-kind 462 MW nuclear project VOYGR‑6 in Idaho, where it planned to build 6 power units of 77 MW each.

Marjanyan pointed out that Russian-­designed reactors were the most acceptable option for the new nuclear power unit to be built in Armenia because they had proved to be safe and cost-effective in the post-­Soviet space and many countries around the world. “Not long ago, Yerevan hosted a round-­table discussion on the problems of the Armenian nuclear energy sector. It was attended by leading experts and researchers working in this field. The discussion proved the efficiency of Russian VVER-type power units, which are familiar to Armenian engineers and which are capable of operating for 100 years,” Marjanyan stressed.

In early 2023, Russia prepared a pre-feasibility study for the Armenian nuclear power project with a VVER‑1200 reactor. This is a Generation III+ design with multi-­level safety systems.

The energy sector is far from being the only area of collaboration between Russian and Armenian nuclear engineers. Last month, six contestants from Armenia won awards at Rosatom’s Global Atomic Quiz 2023. The quiz was traditionally held on November 10, the World Science Day. More than 10,000 people from over 60 countries took part in the event. This popular science quiz allows everyone to test their knowledge and also learn something new about the multiple applications of civil nuclear technology. The winners of the quiz were 100 contestants who scored the highest number of points. They were awarded valuable prizes.