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Marking a significant milestone for the state-of-the art Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactor developed by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, unit 6 of the Leningrad nuclear power plant (NPP) was connected to the grid last week, according to a Rosatom release.

The company said that before its connection to the grid, the VVER-1200 reactor underwent the power ascension tests designed to assess the readiness of its main equipment and systems to produce both thermal and electric power, as well as a step-by-step increase in thermal capacity from 1percent to 35 percent. On its reaching 35 percent thermal capacity, the turbine generator was connected to the grid and started generating and transmitting electricity to Russia’s unified power system.

“The Leningrad NPP unit 6 equipped with Rosatom’s flagship Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactor was connected to the grid and reached the power capacity of 240 MW. There are two important milestones in the power unit start-up process. One is initially bringing the reactor to a critical state at the minimum-controlled power level when it ‘awakens’,” Rosatom First Deputy Director General for Operations Management Alexander Lokshin said. “The second, which is even more important, is its first connection to the grid, when the power unit begins to perform its function and produce electricity. The country has received another 1200 MW unit and strengthened its credibility as a leading power in the field of nuclear energy,” he added.

“The new power unit was connected to the unified power system and tested at a capacity of 240 MW. The next step is trial operation, when the reactor is tested at up to 100 percent power capacity. Each stage is accompanied by numerous equipment checks and dynamic operational tests aimed at stimulating shutdown at various power levels,” said Rosatom’s subsidiary Rosenergoatom Director General Andrey Petrov.

According to the statement, following the trial operation, the unit 6 will be shut down for an additional equipment inspection by a state commission before being put into commercial operation scheduled for 2021. The Leningrad NPP 2 will have four VVER-1200 units. The first unit of the Leningrad NPP 2 was connected to the grid in March 2018.

Rosatom began developing its flagship Generation III+ VVER (Vodo-Vodyanoi Energetichesky Reaktor, meaning water-cooled, water moderated power reactor)-1200 reactor at the turn of the new millenium. These are to be installed, among elsewhere, at Bangladesh’s first NPP at Rooppur, expected to be commissioned in 2023. As per the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the VVER-1200 reactors can be classified as Generation III+ on the basis of their properties of internal self protection mechanisms, passive safety features and safety barriers.

Earlier this year, the commissioning process was started for the first VVER-1200 reactor outside Russia at Belarus’ first NPP located in Ostrovets, which will have two such units of 1,200 MW capacity each. Currently, there are three VVER-1200 units already operational in Russia – two at the Novovoronezh NPP and one at the Leningrad NPP. Rosatom also has VVER-1200 projects in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Finland, Hungary and Turkey.