Unit 2 of first nuclear power plant in Belarus begins commercial operations


Unit 2 of the first nuclear power plant (NPP) in Belarus was put into commercial operation earlier this month, according to a statement by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.    

The second unit of the Belarus NPP, being built with the assistance of Rosatom, attained its first criticality, or controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction, in the last week of March 2023.   

A Rosatom statement said that since the second unit was synchronised with the grid in May 2023, and brought to its design capacity in June, it has generated more than 2 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. 

Two power units of Belarus NPP (total capacity of the plant is 2,400 MW) will be able to meet about 40 percent of the power needs of Belarus. This will make the country one of the world leaders in terms of the share of nuclear generation in the total energy balance, the statement said. 

“According to the contractual obligations, from that moment on, Rosatom assumes responsibility for the performance of the unit’s equipment during the warranty period,” the statement added.  

The 1,200 MW first unit of the Belarus NPP, equipped with the state-of-the-art VVER-1200 reactor, started commercial operations in June 2021.  

The Belarus NPP, located at Ostrovets, is the first VVER-1200 project to become operational outside Russia. The twin unit 2,400 MW project is expected to supply over 18 billion kWh of low-carbon electricity to the national grid every year that will allow Belarus to save 4 to 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, according to Rosatom.  

The VVER-1200 reactor has several advantages when compared to the previous generation VVER-1000 reactor, including a unique combination of active and passive safety systems. VVER-1200 power units are equipped with a “core catcher” – a device designed to contain and cool the melt of the reactor core in the event of an accident – as well as other passive safety systems capable of operating without the participation of personnel in the event of a complete power outage.    

The VVER-1200 reactor is also the backbone of the Rosatom export order book consisting of 34 units across 11 countries, including Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, China and Hungary.