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Belarusian nuclear power plant's second unit's physical launch scheduled for autumn

Viktor Karankevich

MINSK, 20 May (BelTA) – The physical launch of the second unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is supposed to take place in autumn, BelTA learned from Belarusian Energy Minister Viktor Karankevich during the youth forum ProAtom on 20 May.

According to the source, work on the second unit proceeds on schedule. As much as 85% of the required construction work has been done. Fuel rod arrays for the second reactor were delivered to the construction site in April. The fuel is now kept in a special storage facility. It will be placed inside the reactor core in autumn. It will be another important stage – the so-called physical launch, Viktor Karankevich said.

He also noted that the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is now going through comprehensive tests at nominal power levels. This phase is supposed to take 15 days and is the final phase in the pilot commercial operation stage.

The energy minister went on saying: “The Belarusian nuclear power plant has already generated about 2.3 billion kWh of electricity. The amount is roughly comparable to what a large facility like the Belarusian steel mill BMZ consumes per year or to what the population of two oblasts consumes per year.” Once the Belarusian nuclear power plant is fully commissioned, it will be able to generate about 18.5 billion kWh of electricity per annum, which will satisfy about 40% of the country's need for electricity.

In his words, to increase electricity consumption is one of the main tasks in the current five-year term. All the necessary conditions have been enabled in order to implement a set of government-approved measures in the real sector. Plans have been made for the population to consume more electricity, primarily for the sake of heating and hot water supply. More electricity will also be used by the power grid: electric boilers will be used to heat major population centers. “We intend to raise the country's overall electricity consumption to 44 billion kWh by 2025,” Viktor Karankevich said.

“Since Belarus lacks considerable reserves of extractable resources, the country focuses on the development of nuclear energy, which has a great innovative, technological, and production potential. Time has demonstrated it was the right choice. In conditions of instability on international markets of raw materials the matter of access to a reliable, environmentally friendly, and economically profitable source of electricity has become a priority in many countries. At present there are 444 nuclear reactors with the total installed capacity of about 400GW in 34 countries across the globe. Nuclear power plants account for about 17% of the world's electricity output. The number of nuclear power plants will continue growing according to projections of major international research centers,” the energy minister pointed out.

The Russian design AES-2006 of the new 3+ generation was chosen for building the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The design meets the highest international requirements and recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It also boasts increased safety parameters. The Belarusian nuclear power plant is supposed to operate for at least 60 years. Taking into account the practice of extending the service life of nuclear power plants it may operate for up to 100 years, Viktor Karankevich said.

Personnel training for the nuclear industry is discussed during the youth forum ProAtom in Minsk today. According to the energy minister, the most important thing is to deliver up-to-date information about the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant to young people. It is also necessary to point out prospects for the real sector of the economy and the population. About 400 students of higher educational institutions, students of the Minsk State Energy College, students of Minsk schools turned up for the forum. Many of them already intend to pursue careers in nuclear energy industry or allied industries. Many are interested in getting jobs with the Belarusian nuclear power plant, in working conditions and career enhancement opportunities. The ProAtom forum offers a unique opportunity for getting answers to these questions from representatives of the state enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, the Russian state corporation Rosatom, the Belarusian national energy company Belenergo, from ministries and government agencies, which work is connected with nuclear energy, the energy minister said.

The forum has been organized by the Energy Ministry in association with Belenergo, Rosatom, and the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant with assistance of the Education Ministry.