Armenia plans to extend the operational life of Unit 2 at Metsamor (also matter-of-factly known as the Armenian nuclear power plant) beyond 2026 and has not abandoned plans to construct a new reactor, the Armenian news agency ARKA reported on January 14, citing the country’s new cabinet-approved strategy for energy sector development through 2040. (The Armenian government in 2014 decided to extend Unit 2’s service life to 2026.)
The nuclear advantage: “Having a nuclear power plant in the energy system will allow Armenia to diversify its energy resources, avoid increasing the country’s dependence on imported natural gas, as well as cut the volume of emissions,” the strategy document states, according to ARKA. “The government remains committed to its policy of having a nuclear power plant in the country’s generating capacity. In this context, it should be noted that the option of maximally extending the operating life of the nuclear power plant is a guarantee of the development of the system at the lowest cost.”
Details: The document notes that the current investment program, aimed at extending the operating life of Metsamor-2 to 2026, will be completed in 2023, by which time a total of $330 million will have been invested, according to ARKA’s report. In addition, the document states that if the safe operation of Unit 2 after 2026 is confirmed by relevant studies, the Armenian government will operate the reactor until at least 2036, which will require an additional investment of $150 million.
The plant: Metsamor houses two VVER-440 model V270 pressurized water reactors, built in the 1970s. Both units were shut down in 1988 as a result of public pressure following a severe earthquake in the region. With Russian assistance, the 375-MWe Unit 2 was restarted in 1995 and currently accounts for 39 percent of Armenia’s electricity generation.