In Russia’s Voronezh region, State Atomiс Energy Corporation Rosatom said on February 19 that fuel loading began on schedule at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant II, unit No. 2 equipped with the VVER-1200 reactor.

The launch of the VVER-1200, which is a generation III+ PWR-type reactor, will bring the share of nuclear in the Central Russia’s electricity grid to 27% thus preventing over 4 million tonnes of GHG emissions every year and boosting the region’s economy, according to Rosatom.

The initial fuel loading marks the beginning of the reactor start-up. The reactor will then achieve the first criticality – the moment when a chain reaction is launched in the reactor for the first time and the core parameters required for the reactor’s further operation are established, Rosatom said, adding that the next stages include connection to the grid, power ascension testing and the commencement of commercial operations.

“This operation marks the beginning of the reactor start-up, which means that all operations related to the construction of unit No. 2 at the Novovoronezh-2 have been accomplished,” Rosenergoatom Director General Andrei Petrov said, adding that further operations will prepare the unit for first criticality and electricity production. The unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of this year, Rosatom said.

Unit No. 2’s reactor at the Novovoronezh-2 is the second reactor of its type on this site and the third in Russia, Novovoronezh NPP Director Vladimir Povarov said.

According to Rosatom, compared with the previous generation of VVER power units, the innovative generation III+ VVER-1200 reactor has a number of safety and economic advantages. Its capacity is increased by 7%, the number of staff is reduced by 30-40%, and the reactor’s lifetime is doubled to 60 years with a possibility of extending it to 80 years.