Double Lifetime Extension of ANPP Again on Agenda

Double Lifetime Extension of ANPP Again on Agenda

On March 18, 2021, a traditional panel discussion on "Prospects for Development of Atomic Sector in Armenia" took place in Yerevan within the framework of the cooperation between Armenia and Russia in the field of energy. The event was dedicated to the 55th anniversary of Armenia's nuclear industry. The event was organized by Rosatom State Corporation and
"Armatom" Armenian Scientific Research Institute for Nuclear Plant Operation CJSC.

During the discussion, issues were raised regarding the safety of operation of the existing unit of the ANPP, the possibility of double lifetime after 2026, and specific measures for the modernization of the nuclear power plant.

According to Movses Vardanyan, Director of Armenian NPP, First Deputy General Director of “ANPP” CJSC, it is necessary to develop a new concept of extending the lifetime of the ANPP operation after 2026, substantiating the safety of the nuclear power plant. Movses Vardanyan mentioned that it is planned to shut down the ANPP for 141 days in 2021 in order to increase security. During that time, in addition to installation work, nuclear fuel refilling, washing, reactor firing, etc. will be carried out. He noted that after the reactor body undergoes firing, the plant could continue operating until 1936 without affecting safety.

“I think we can finish everything on time and get a license for the operation of the second power unit of the ANPP after 2026. For this purpose, it is planned to set up a technical group with the participation of "Rusatom" service, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure," and "Armatom" Armenian Scientific Research Institute for Nuclear Plant Operation CJSC," Movses Vardanyan said.

Yuri Sviridenko, Head of the Russian side of the project on Armenian NPP lifetime extension, presented the international experience of extending the lifetime of VVER-440 type units. According to him, the lifetime of three power units of this type in the nuclear power plants in Kolsk and Voronezh has been extended for up to 60 years. "In Hungary, Ukraine and Finland, the lifetime of eight power units has been extended to 50 years. In this regard, the extension of the lifetime of the ANPP is perspective for only 10 years," Sviridenko said.

A $ 270 million Russian loan was provided for the modernization and safety of the ANPP, out of which $ 173.6 million had already been spent. Another $ 19.3 million was spent from the grant provided by Russia. The total amount of the grant is $ 30 million.

In 2020, the Armenian government refused from the balance of this loan and allocated 63 billion AMD from the state budget.

Tigran Melkonyan, Head of Energy Department of Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, said that the 63 billion AMD envisaged by the state budget is in force, out of which 20 billion AMD are spent on the works currently in progress.

Thus, the extension of the lifetime of the second power unit of the ANPP until 2026 can be considered to be solved, and the double lifetime extension for "10 years and over" is on the agenda.

The construction of the new ANPP is supported by "Strategic Program for Development of Energy Sector of the Republic of Armenia (until 2040)". However, except for RA Law on Construction of New Nuclear Power Unit(s) in the Republic of Armenia adopted on October 27, 2009, there is no new document on this issue available. Moreover, the capacity of the new power unit, 1200 MW, approved by law, is considered to be artificially overestimated.

Following the discussion, it was not yet clear what type of nuclear power plant would be built. It was only clearly emphasized that in the presence of different technologies, the advantage will be given to the references - already guaranteed nuclear power plants.

The source of funding for the construction of a new nuclear power plant is also unknown, as Armenia cannot build a nuclear power plant with its own funds. There are no clear proposals yet.

Other unresolved issues are related to radioactive waste. Answering EcoLur's question, Movses Vardanyan mentioned that currently the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is stored in a cemetery on the site of the ANPP built by French company "Framatom". Three rows have already been filled, and now the fourth row is being built with the same technology.

"Currently, in cooperation with Rosatom, a project is being developed to transport some of the spent fuel to Russia," he said. According to him, certified containers will be used for liquid waste storage, using the Russian experience of long-term storage.

EcoLur drew the attention of the participants to the radiation safety monitoring system, outlining the need for this sort of monitoring not only in the area of ​​the ANPP, but also in the affected communities 5-10 km away from the ANPP.

ANPP director Movses Vardanyan responded, "In other countries, there is an automatic radiation monitoring system, not only around the nuclear power plant, but also in the surrounding areas. We do not have such a system yet. The regulatory body plans to introduce such a system in our country as well, thanks to which we can receive information, which, I think, will not be closed. We control the situation in the area of ​​the nuclear power plant, as well as in the pipes coming out of the nuclear power plant to the Sevjur River and Metsamor Town," he said.

Currently, an EU-funded radiation monitoring network is being set up in Armenia, which will cover not only the ANPP, but also other areas of Armenia.

UN National Energy Expert in Armenia, member of the Eurasian Expert Club, Senior Expert of Orbeli Center Ara Marjanyan drew attention on the requirements of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive Agreement (CEPA).

Citing Article 42 of the Agreement (by the editor o on the ANPP), he said: "This article does not specify specific dates for the closure of the ANPP. The idea is that from the viewpoint of the European Union and the Euratom, the ANPP should be closed, but replaced with capacities that will guarantee Armenia's energy security and ensure its development. The nuclear power plant is, first of all, a guaranteed source of energy for Armenia. From the viewpoint of Armenia's energy security, there are only two facilities that maintain that security: Vorotan hydro cascade and the ANPP." In this regard, Ara Marjanyan noted that the "Strategic Program for Energy Development in Armenia (until 2040)" prescribes the component of nuclear generation in Armenia.

March 31, 2021 at 17:13