After 45 years of producing electricity, the first unit at Russia’s Kursk nuclear power plant has been retired, plant operator Rosenergoatom announced on Monday. Kursk I-1, one of the facility’s four 925-MWe light water–cooled graphite-moderated reactors, model RBMK-1000 (a Chernobyl-type reactor), was permanently shut down at 00:24 Moscow time on December 19.
Over the course of its lifetime, the reactor generated more than 251 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to provide the energy consumption of the Kursk region for 30 years, according to Rosenergoatom.
The remaining three units at Kursk are scheduled for retirement over the next 10 years.
The Kursk I units are to be replaced by two VVER-TOI reactors currently under construction at the adjacent Kursk II plant. The VVER-TOI (“TOI” are Russian initials for Universal Optimized Digital) is the newest and most powerful of Russia’s generation III+ VVER designs, with a gross capacity of 1,255 MWe. The design—developed by the ASE Group, the engineering division of Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation—is based on the AES-2006 reactor, a VVER-1200 Generation III+ design. At this writing, Kursk II-1 is expected to start commercial operation in late 2022.
The official words: “A new history begins for the Kursk station,” said Rosenergoatom’s general director, Andrei Petrov. “Now the construction of a capacity replacement station for the decommissioned power units of the Kursk NPP of the RBMK-1000 type is well underway . New units are being constructed according to the most modern NPP project of domestic design, created by Russian designers on the basis of technical solutions for the NPP with PWR-1200. The power units under construction with the PWR-TOI reactor have increased power and improved technical and economic indicators.”
Recent history: The first pour of concrete for the base plate of the Unit 1 reactor building at Kursk II commenced on April 29, 2018, marking the official start of construction. The same work took place at Kursk II-2 on April 15, 2019.
In October of this year, Rosenergoatom announced the start of installation of Kursk II-1’s polar crane and the delivery of the first of the unit’s four steam generators. The other three steam generators are expected to arrive at the construction site by year’s end.