ArmInfo. The program on modernization of the second power unit (Unit 2) of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) will be ready by late 2016, Gera Sevikyan, Deputy Director of Armenian NPP CJSC, says in an interview with ArmInfo. He says the project on extension of the Unit 2 lifetime will be completed by late 2019.
He notes that in international practice such projects need more time - 10-12 years, but the abovementioned project will have to be implemented in a shorter period of time. The project will be carried out in two stages. During the first stage the main equipment will be examined and then a decision on further steps will be taken. "We are aware of all our shortcomings and now we are working to remove them, but the situation will become clear after the first stage is over, when the equipment is examined and appraised. Only after that a program will be elaborated to increase the capacity of the plant by 10% without additional expenses on fuel. This will increase the efficiency coefficient and, consequently, will reduce the tariff burden. As a result, we will be able not only to continue the electricity supply to the electric network of the country without any problems, but also to service the Russian loan provided for the
program," Sevikyan says.
He says that in September 2016 the unit activity will be suspended for maintenance and refueling. The reactor facility will be examined and this will determine the possibility of further operation of the unit. This is hard and expensive work, which will involve 5 specialized organizations. It will be necessary to dismantle the reactor. We hope that the examination results will be positive and it will be possible to speak of extension of the lifetime. The year 2017 will be relatively calm. The suspension of the power unit for maintenance will be insignificant. During that period the valves, pipes and other things will be replaced. The peak of the operations will be in 2018, when the plant activities will be suspended for four months. It is envisaged to introduce a modernized reactor cooling system, which ensures the safety of the reactor in case of possible emergencies. "In addition, in 2018 measures will be taken to replace the turbines, generator, separator, condenser, major transformers, etc. It is huge work and we hope to complete it within 4 months. In 2019, the second turbine with all its components will be replaced. By late 2019 the project will be completed. Certainly, there will be some issues related to enhancement of safety. But it will be our concern," he stresses.
Sevikyan notes that the project slightly differs from ordinary projects. For many years both the European Commission and the United States have demanded decommissioning the ANPP. We have been investing serious funds in maintenance of the unit and enhancement of its safety. "More than half of our funds will be spent on maintenance of the electricity generating systems rather than on extension of the
lifetime," he says.
In the meantime, Sevikyan pointed at mutual understanding and perfect
interaction with the Russian partners: "All operations are being
coordinated with the Armenian-Russian Coordination Committee on
Armenian NPP Unit-2 Lifetime Extension Project. I would like to
especially emphasize the professionalism of our Russian colleagues. I
am sure we will settle the tasks with joint efforts with Rosatom," he
says. When speaking of cooperation with the IAEA, the expert pointed
out that unlike the European Commission, the Agency did not show a
tough stand on the extension of the ANPP Unit-2 lifetime. "Moreover,
the IAEA experts prepared a special project to support our efforts.
Earlier we submitted our program to the IAEA and it was supported.
Last year the IAEA mission inspected the nuclear power engineers'
actions to check how much they meet the program. In late 2016 the
mission will study the results of the first stage related to the
examination of the reactor facility and equipment. A research-based
program will also be studied. It will envisage all measures needed to
ensure safe operation of the unit. I hope the document will be ready
by late September and it will be possible to coordinate it with both
the IAEA and the supervisory body", Sevikyan says.
As regards the European Commission, Sevikyan says that initially it
objected to extension of the Unit-2 lifetime. "But having assessed
our firm intention to implement the program, it agreed to support us.
I'd like to recall that stress tests are being conducted according to
the EU requirements for all nuclear power plants located in the
European space. We received all the questions from the supervisory
body and the discussion on them will be held in the near future. I
should say that in geographical and geological terms, some questions
just drop out. The matter concerns tsunamis, floods, and fires. But
there are also other issues partly included in the project on
preparation for the lifetime extension," he says, adding that the
European Commission will help acquire mobile devices of additional
energy, which can be used in case of large accidents. The European
Commission comes out against the program, but if it is implemented,
the Commission is willing to help reduce the possible risks.
To recall, the European Commission has recently published the results
of the ANPP stress tests, which demonstrate a number of issues to be
addressed. The ANPP will be modernized at the expense of the Russian
$270 mln loan and the Russian $30 mln grant funds, as well as
$100-$120 mln investments to be made by the Armenian NPP itself.