Nuclear Power in Russia

(Updated 24 November 2014)

  • Russia is moving steadily forward with plans for much expanded role of nuclear energy, including development of new reactor technology
  • Efficiency of nuclear generation in Russia has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction.
  • Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective.
  • Russia is a world leader in fast neutron reactor technology.

Russia's first nuclear power plant, and the first in the world to produce electricity, was the 5 MWe Obninsk reactor, in 1954. Russia's first two commercial-scale nuclear power plants started up in 1963-64, then in 1971-73 the first of today's production models were commissioned. By the mid-1980s Russia had 25 power reactors in operation, but the nuclear industry was beset by problems. The Chernobyl accident led to a resolution of these, as outlined in the Appendix.

Rosenergoatom is the only Russian utility operating nuclear power plants. Its ten nuclear plants have the status of branches. It was established in 1992 and was reconstituted as a utility in 2001.

Between the 1986 Chernobyl accident and mid-1990s, only one nuclear power station was commissioned in Russia, the four-unit Balakovo, with unit 3 being added to Smolensk. Economic reforms following the collapse of the Soviet Union meant an acute shortage of funds for nuclear developments, and a number of projects were stalled. But by the late 1990s exports of reactors to Iran, China and India were negotiated and Russia's stalled domestic construction program was revived as far as funds allowed.

Around 2000 nuclear construction revived and Rostov 1 (also known as Volgodonsk 1), the first of the delayed units, started up in 2001, joining 21 GWe already on the grid. This greatly boosted morale in the Russian nuclear industry. It was followed by Kalinin 3 in 2004, Rostov 2 in 2010 and Kalinin 4 in 2011.

By 2006 the government's resolve to develop nuclear power had firmed and there were projections of adding 2-3 GWe per year to 2030 in Russia as well as exporting plants to meet world demand for some 300 GWe of new nuclear capacity in that time frame.

In February 2010 the government approved the federal target program designed to bring a new technology platform for the nuclear power industry based on fast reactors. Rosatom's long-term strategy up to 2050 involves moving to inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle. It envisages nuclear providing 45-50% of electricity at that time, with the share rising to 70-80% by the end of the century. In June 2010 the government approved plans for 173 GWe of new generating capacity by 2030, 43.4 GWe of this being nuclear.

Apart from adding capacity, utilisation of existing plants has improved markedly. In the 1990s capacity factors averaged around 60%, but they have steadily improved since and in 2010 and 2011 were above 81%. Balakovo was the best plant in 2011 with 92.5%.

Electricity supply in Russia

Russia's electricity supply, formerly centrally controlled by RAO Unified Energy System (UES)*, faces a number of acute constraints. First, demand is rising strongly after more than a decade of stagnation, secondly some 50 GWe of generating plant (more than a quarter of it) in the European part of Russia has come to the end of its design life, and thirdly Gazprom has cut back on the very high level of natural gas supplies for electricity generation because it can make about five times as much money by exporting the gas to the west (27% of EU gas comes from Russia). In 2012 Gazprom exports are expected to reach $84.5 billion, $61 billion of this to Europe for 150 billion m3.

UES' gas-fired plants burn about 60% of the gas marketed in Russia by Gazprom, and it is aimed to halve this by 2020. (Also, by 2020, the Western Siberian gas fields will be so depleted that they supply only a tenth of current Russian output, compared with nearly three quarters now.) Also there are major regional grid constraints so that a significant proportion of the capacity of some plants cannot be used. Some non-nuclear generators have been privatised, eg OGK-4 (E.ON Russia) is 76% owned by E.ON, and OGK-5 (Enel Russia) is 56% owned by Enel. Other OGKs are owned by Inter RAO or Gazprom. Some TGK companies (also supplying heat) are private, others such as TGK-3 or Mosenergo are owned by Gazprom.

* In Russia, "energy" mostly implies electricity.

Electricity production was 1038 billion kWh in 2010, with 170 billion kWh (16.5%) coming from nuclear power, 521 TWh (50%) from gas, 165 TWh (16%) from coal and 168 TWh (16%) from hydro. In 2012 total production was about the same. In 2007 net export was 13 TWh and final consumption was 701 TWh (after transmission losses of 105 and own use/ energy sector use of 194 TWh).

In November 2009, the government's Energy Strategy 2030 was published, projecting investments for the next two decades. It envisaged a possible doubling of generation capacity from 225 GWe in 2008 to 355-445 GWe in 2030. A revised scheme in mid 2010 projected 1288 billion kWh demand in 2020 and 1553 billion kWh in 2030, requiring 78 GWe of new plant by 2020 and total 178 GWe new build by 2030, including 43.4 GWe nuclear. The scheme envisaged decommissioning 67.7 GWe of capacity by 2030, including 16.5 GWe of nuclear plant (about 70% of present capacity). New investment by 2030 of RUR 9800 billion in power plants and RUR 10,200 billion in transmission would be required. In mid 2010 the projected annual electricity demand growth to 2020 was put at 2.2%. In mid 2013, UES projected 1.9%pa. Retail electricity prices are relatively low – for households in 2010, about 9c/kWh compared with EU median of 18.5 cents.

Rosenergoatom is the sole nuclear utility, following consolidation in 2001. In 2009 nuclear production was 163.3 billion kWh (83.7 TWh from VVER, 79.6 TWh from RBMK and other). In 2010 it was 170.1 billion kWh, 16.6% of Russia's electricity, in 2011 it was 172.7 billion kWh (17.6%), and in 2012, 177 billion kWh was expected. In 2013, 171.8 billion kWh was reported, about 17% of total. Output could then level off for a few years due to problems with old RBMK units. Nuclear electricity output has risen strongly due simply to better performance of the nuclear plants, with capacity factors leaping from 56% to 76% 1998-2003 and then on to 80.2% in 2009. Rosenergoatom aims for 90% capacity factor by 2015. In 2006 Rosatom announced a target of nuclear providing 23% of electricity by 2020 and 25% by 2030, but 2007 and 2009 plans approved by the government scaled this back significantly. (see: Extending Nuclear Capacity below) In mid-2013 UES projected a decrease from 17.2% to 15.9% for nuclear output by 2020, with a substantial increase in fossil fuel power.

In July 2012 the Energy Ministry (Minenergo) published draft plans to commission 83 GWe of new capacity by 2020, including 10 GWe nuclear to total 30.5 GWe producing 238 TWh/yr. A year later Minenergo reduced the projection to 28.26 GWe in 2019. Total investment envisaged is RUR 8230 billion, including RUR 4950 billion on upgrading power plants, RUR 3280 billion on new grid capacity and RUR 1320 billion on nuclear.

In parallel with this Russia is greatly increasing its hydro-electric capacity, aiming to increase by 60% to 2020 and double it by 2030. Hydro OGK is planning to commission 5 GWe by 2011. The 3 GWe Boguchanskaya plant in Siberia is being developed in collaboration with Rusal, for aluminium smelting. The aim is to have almost half of Russia's electricity from nuclear and hydro by 2030.

UES wholesale electricity tariffs were planned to increase from (US$) 1.1 c/kWh in 2001 to 1.9 c/kWh in 2005 and 2.4 c/kWh in 2015. However, only much smaller increases have so far been approved by the government, and even these have attracted wide opposition. However, electricity supplied is now being fully paid for, in contrast to the situation in the mid 1990s.

In February 2007 RAO UES said that it was aiming to raise up to US$ 15 billion by selling shares in as many as 15 power generation companies, having increased its investment target by 2010 from $79 to $118 billion. Late in 2006 UES raised $459 million by selling 14.4% of one of its generators, OGK-5, and since then the UES sell-off continued with investors committing to continued expansion. In mid-2008 RAO UES was wound up, having sold off all its assets. Some of these were bought by EU utilities, for instance Finland's Fortum bought at auction 76.5% of the small utility TGC-10, which operates in well-developed industrial regions of the Urals and Western Siberia. From July 2008, 25% of all Russia's power is sold on the competitive market. The wholesale power market was to be fully liberalised by 2011.

InterRAO UES was initially a subsidiary of RAO UES, involved with international trade and investment in electricity, particularly with Finland, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It acquired some of RAO UES assets when that company was broken up in 2008 and it now controls about 18 GWe in Russia and Armenia. It was responsible for finding a foreign investor and structuring electricity marketing for the proposed Baltic nuclear power plant. It aims to increase its generation capacity to 30 GWe by 2015. In November 2008 Rosatom's share in InterRAO was increased to 57.28%.

The Federal Grid Company (RAO FGC) owns Russia's 118,000-km high-voltage transmission grid and plans to invest €12 billion ($14.5 billion) over 2010-13 to modernize it. It has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Siemens to progress this, using the company's low-loss high-voltage DC transmission technology. The system operator is the Centralized Dispatching Administration (OAO SO-CDA).

Present nuclear capacity

Russia's nuclear plants, with 33 operating reactors totalling 24,164 MWe, comprise:

  • 4 early VVER-440/230 or similar pressurised water reactors,
  • 2 later VVER-440/213 pressurised water reactors,
  • 11 current-generation VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors with a full containment structure, mostly V-320 types,
  • 13 RBMK light water graphite reactors (LWGR) now unique to Russia. The four oldest of these were commissioned in the 1970s at Kursk and Leningrad and are of some concern to the Western world. A further Kursk unit is under construction.
  • 4 small graphite-moderated BWR reactors in eastern Siberia, constructed in the 1970s for cogeneration (EGP-6 models on linked map).
  • One BN-600 fast-breeder reactor.

Apart from Bilibino, several reactors supply district heating – a total of over 11 PJ/yr.

Power reactors in operation

Reactor Type
MWe net,
Balakovo 1-2 V-320 988, 1028 5/86, 1/88 2015, 2017 (being extended)
Balakovo 3-4 V-320 988 4/89, 12/93 2018, 2023
Beloyarsk 3 BN-600 FBR 560 11/81 2025
Bilibino 1-4 LWGR EGP-6 11 4/74-1/77 2019-21
Kalinin 1-2 V-338 950 6/85, 3/87 2025, 2016 (being extended)
Kalinin 3 V-320 988 11/05 2034
Kalinin 4 V-320 950 9/12 2042
Kola 1-2 V-230 432, 411 12/73, 2/75 2018, 2019
Kola 3-4 V-213 411 12/82, 12/84 2026, 2039
Kursk 1-2 RBMK 1020, 971 10/77, 8/79 2021, 2024
Kursk 3 RBMK 971 3/84 2013
Kursk 4 RBMK 925 2/86 2015
Leningrad 1 RBMK 925 11/74 2018
Leningrad 2 RBMK 971 2/76 2020
Leningrad 3 RBMK 971 6/80 2024
Leningrad 4 RBMK 925 8/81 2025
Novovoronezh 3-4 V-179 385 6/72, 3/73 2016, 2017
Novovoronezh 5 V-187 950 2/81 2035
Smolensk 1-2 RBMK 925 9/83, 7/85 2022, 2015
Smolensk 3 RBMK 925 1/90 2020
Rostov 1 V-320 990 3/01 2030
Rostov 2 V-320 990 10/10  
Total: 33   24,253 MWe

V-320 is the base model of what is generically VVER-1000; V-230 and V-213 are generically VVER-440; V-179 & V-187 are prototypes. Rostov was formerly sometimes known as Volgodonsk. A July 2012 Energy Ministry plan shows 22,743 MWe net, 24,242 MWe gross, excluding Kalinin 4.

Life extension, uprates and completing construction

Most reactors are being licensed for life extension: Generally, Russian reactors were originally licensed for 30 years from first power. Late in 2000, plans were announced for lifetime extensions of twelve first-generation reactors totalling 5.7 GWe, and the extension period envisaged is now 15 to 25 years, necessitating major investment in refurbishing them. Generally the VVER-440 and most RBMK units will get 15-year life extensions and the VVER-1000 units 25 years. (Kola 1 & 2 VVER-440 and the Kursk and Leningrad RBMK units are all models which the EU has paid to shut down early in countries outside Russia.)

* Leningrad 1&2, Kursk 1&2, Kola 1&2, Bilibino 1-4, Novovoronezh 3&4.

To the end of 2011, 15-year extensions had been achieved for 17 units totalling 9.8 GWe: Beloyarsk 3, Novovoronezh 3-5, Kursk 1-2, Kola-1-4, and Leningrad-1-4, as well as Bilibino 1-4. In 2006 Rosatom said it was considering lifetime extensions and uprating of all its eleven operating RBMK reactors. Following significant design modifications made after the Chernobyl accident, as well as extensive refurbishment including replacement of fuel channels, a 45-year lifetime is seen as realistic for most of the 1000 MWe units. In 2011 they provided 47.5% of Russia's nuclear-generated electricity.

For older RBMK units, service lifetime performance recovery (LPR) operations involve correcting deformation of the graphite stack. The procedure will give each of these older reactors at least three years extra operation, and may then be repeated. Leningrad 1 was the first reactor to undergo this over 2012-13.

Most reactors are being uprated. The July 2012 Energy Ministry draft plan envisaged increasing the power of VVER-440 units to 107%, that of RBMKs to 105% and VVER-1000 units to 104-110% (revised to 107-110% in 2013).

During 2010-11 the uprating program was completed for all VVER units except Novovoronezh 5 (see below): 4% for VVER-1000, 5% for VVER-440 (but 7% for Kola 4). The cost of this was put at US$ 200 per kilowatt, compared with $2400/kW for construction of Rostov 2. Kalinin units 1-3 are quoted at 1075 MWe gross after uprate.

Rosenergoatom has been investigating further uprates of VVER-1000 units to 107-110% of original capacity, using Balakovo 4 as a pilot plant to 2014. The cost of further uprates beyond 104% is expected to be up to $570/kW, depending on what needs to be replaced – the turbine generators being the main items. It seems that for the V-320 units, pilot commercial operation at 104% power will be carried out over three fuel campaigns, with the reactor and other system parameters being monitored and relevant data collected. After this period, a cumulative 104% power operation report will be produced for each plant. Rostechnadzor will then assess safety and possibly licence commercial operation at the higher power level.

The R&D Institute of Power Engineering was preparing plans for 5% uprating of the later Leningrad, Kursk and Smolensk RBMK units. For Leningrad 2-4, fuel enriched to average 3% instead of 2.4% would allow a 5% increase in power, and Rostechnadzor authorized trials in unit 2 of the new fuel. Following this it was to consider authorizing a 5% uprate for long-term operation. However, Rosenergoatom in May 2012 flagged problems with ageing of the graphite moderator, most acute at Leningrad 1, questioned proceeding with uprates of older units, and said it would consider de-rating individual units where problems such as pressure tube distortion were apparent due to graphite swelling. Leningrad 1 would be de-rated to 80% to prolong its operating life, and work to restore its graphite stack and extend its service life will be completed late in 2013. Similar work would then be done on all first-generation RBMKs, since these are so important economically to Rosenergoatom. However, future RBMK operation might possibly be at reduced capacity of 80% across all units. The successful repair of Leningrad 1 removed the pressure for accelerated replacement of old RBMK units.

Individual operating power plants

Balakovo: In December 2009 Rostechnadzor approved a 4% increase in power from Balakovo 2 and it was to undergo a major overhaul after 2012. Balakovo 1 has been upgraded at a cost of RUR 9.8 billion to achieve life extension. All Balakovo V-320 units are uprated to 104%, but as of mid-2012, units 1, 3&4 were in trial operation and not yet licensed at this level, and upgrading will continue to 2018. Atomenergoproekt documentation for a life extension of unit 1 is expected at the end of 2014, and Rosatom has agreed in principle to do the same for the other three units.

Beloyarsk: Beloyarsk 3 BN-600 fast neutron reactor has been upgraded for 15-year life extension, to 2025. Its licence was renewed to 2020. It achieved 30 years of operation to late 2011, producing 114 billion kWh with capacity factor of 76%. Due to progressive modification, its fuel burn up has increased from 7% (design value) to 11.4%. It provides heat for Zarechny town as well.

Bilibino: Units 1-4 have been given 15-year licence extensions, but will be shut down by 2021.

Kalinin: Unit 1 was undergoing major overhaul in 2012 for licence extension and power uprate, and Kalinin 2 was to follow. Kalinin 2&3 have been approved for a 4% increase in power and are operating at this level on pilot commercial basis since 2012. Kalinin 1 was undergoing tests at 104% in 2013 and in mid-2014 it was granted a ten-year life extension, to mid-2025.

Kalinin 4 is a V-320 unit built by Nizhny-Novgorod Atomenergopoekt. Rostechnadzor approved an operating licence in October 2011, it started up in November, was grid-connected in December and attained full commercial operation in September 2012. It uses major components originally supplied for Belene in Bulgaria. Final cost was RUR 7 billion ($220 million) under budget – about 10%.

Kola: Safety analyses for Kola 3&4, which are later-model VVER-440 reactors, have allowed for at least 15-year life extension from 2011 and 2014 respectively, and significant upratings, despite low power demand in the Murmansk region and Karelia which means they are not fully utilised. In 2010, intended life extension was announced for Kola 3 (15 years). Kola 4 has been uprated to 107% using improved fuel assemblies on a six-year cycle and run on pilot basis but is not yet fully licensed at this level. In October 2014 Rostechnadzor granted a 25-year licence extension for unit 4, taking it to 2039 – 55 years.

In November 2013 the Regional Energy Planning Scheme suggested units 1&2 might continue to operate until two new VVER-TOI units are commissioned, likely to be 2025 and 2030 respectively. In mid-2014 Rosenergoatom suggested that Kola 1&2 might have a second life extension, taking them to 60 years operation (2033, 2034). A decision is due early in 2015. Major works were undertaken on the two units over 1991 to 2005, costing $718 million, $96 million of this from international sources including neighbouring countries, and it is claimed that further work could bring them to contemporary standards.

Kursk: In 2010 Kursk 1 licence was extended for 10 years to 2016. A major contract for upgrading unit 4 followed that for Leningrad 4, and Kursk 2 & 3 would follow. Having had a licence extension to 2016, Kursk 1 was the first RBMK unit to be licensed for pilot operation with 5% uprate (apparently to 1020 MWe net) but units 2 & 4 were also operating at this level late in 2011. In February 2012 Rosatom said it would invest a further RUR 30 billion ($1.1 billion) in upgrading Kursk 2-4 and extending their operating lives – RUR 5.0, 11.9 & 13.7 billion respectively. On units 1&2 work on the graphite moderator was envisaged to avoid the deformation experienced in Leningrad 1, and in 2014 this was undertaken for unit 2, but following inspection further work was postponed for unit 1. Unit 2 was returned to service in February 2014 after its ‘lifetime performance restoration program’ based on such work at unit 1.

Leningrad: In 2010, intended life extension was announced for Leningrad 4 (15 years), and it has undergone an RUR 17 billion refurbishment over 2008-11, including replacement of generator stator. The upgrading investment in all four Leningrad I units totalled RUR 48 billion ($1.6 billion) to early 2012. Leningrad unit 1 was shut down in May 2012 due to deformation of the graphite moderator, and after a RUR 5 billion ($146 million) restoration of the graphite stack as the pioneer lifetime performance recovery (LPR) procedure it was restarted in November 2013. The same work is being undertaken on unit 2 in 2014, and second stage LPR work on unit 1 is planned for 2015.

For Leningrad 2-4, fuel enriched to average 3% instead of 2.4% would allow a 5% increase in power – some 46 MWe each. Rostechnadzor authorized trials in unit 2 of the new fuel, and following this it was to consider authorizing a 5% uprate for long-term operation. This now seems in doubt.

Novovoronezh: Units 3&4 gained 15-year licence extensions. A plan for refurbishment, upgrade and life extension of Novovoronezh 5 was announced in mid-2009, this being the first second-generation VVER-1000 project. The initial estimate was RUR 1.66 billion ($52 million) but this eventually became RUR 14 billion ($450 million). The 12 months work from September 2010 included total replacement of the reactor control system and 80% of electrical equipment, and fitting upgraded safety systems, in particular, those of emergency core cooling and feedwater, and emergency power supply. Its operating life is extended to 2035.

Smolensk: Early in 2012 Rosatom announced a RUR 45 billion ($1.5 billion) program to upgrade and extend the operating life of Smolensk 1-3 RBMK units. At the same time, construction of Smolensk II would get underway, with the first VVER unit to come on line by 2024. In 2012 Smolensk 1 was licensed to December 2022, a ten-year extension after refurbishment. Upgrading unit 2 is being undertaken from 2013, to come on line in 2015, and will include replacement of fuel channels and upgrading the reactor control and protection system and radiation monitoring system, as well as reinforcing the building structure. Unit 3 upgrade will follow, though it is already operating above 1000 MWe gross.

Rostov: Rostov 1 has been approved for a 4% increase in power and is operating at this level on pilot commercial basis. In September 2009 Rostechnadzor approved an operating licence for Rostov 2; it started up in January 2010, was grid connected in March, and apparently entered full commercial operation in October 2010. It was approved for 104% in October 2012. For Rostov 3&4, which are effectively new V-320 plants, construction resumed in 2009. See also following section.

Reactors under construction: The Beloyarsk 4 BN-800 fast neutron reactor in Zarechny municipality of Sverdlovsk Region has been delayed by lack of funds since construction start in 2006 and is now expected on line in October after first criticality in June 2014. Commercial operation is due in 2015. (See also Transition to Fast Reactors subsection below)

From mid-2008 there are four standard third-generation VVER reactors being built: at Leningrad (two units to commence stage 2) and Novovoronezh (similarly) to be commissioned 2012-14. This leads to a program of starting to build at least 2000 MWe per year in Russia from 2009 (apart from export plants). See following section.

There has been considerable uncertainty about completing Kursk 5 – an upgraded RBMK design which is more than 70% built. Rosatom was keen to see it completed and in January 2007 the Duma's energy committee recommended that the government fund its completion by 2010*. However, funds were not forthcoming and the economic case for completion was doubtful, so in February 2012 Rosatom confirmed that the project was terminated. Instead, major announcements were made regarding Kursk II, a modern VVER plant to be built from 2015 to ensure that Kursk remains “the key electricity generation facility in the Central Black-Soil (Chernozemye) Region of Russia” – Kursk provided half the power there in 2011.

* In March 2007 the Industry Ministry recommended to the government that work proceed and Rosenergoatom then applied for RUR 27 billion (US$ 1 billion) from the ministry's 2008-10 federal budget to complete it. This did not materialise, so other funds were sought, and discussions with Sberbank and industrial electricity consumers such as steel producers continued into 2009. All other RBMK reactors – long condemned by the EU – are due to close by 2024, which would leave it technologically isolated. Despite positive statements as recently as September 2009, according to Rosatom early in 2010 it required RUR 45 billion and 3.5 years to finish and connect (RUR 27 billion for the plant itself), compared with around RUR 60 billion for building the same capacity from scratch in the new projects under way. Rosatom said that this meant "there is no sense in completing the reactor construction". (Accordingly it was then removed from WNA's "under construction" list.)

After the Fukushima accident, checks were made on Russian nuclear plants. Following these, in mid June 2011 Rosenergoatom announced a RUR 15 billion ($530 million) safety upgrade program for additional power and water supply back-up. Rosenergoatom spent RUR 2.6 billion on 66 mobile diesel generator sets, 35 mobile pumping units and 80 other pumps.

Retiring old units

The July 2012 Energy Ministry draft plan envisages decommissioning nine units by 2020 – four VVERs (probably Kola 1&2, Novovoronezh 3&4), two RBMKs (probably Leningrad 1 and Kursk 1) and three of the small Bilibino EGPs, total 3750 MWe gross, 3521 MWe net. The last Bilibino unit will close by 2021.

Building new nuclear capacity

Rosatom's initial proposal for a rapid expansion of nuclear capacity was based on the cost effectiveness of completing the 9 GWe of then partially built plant. To get the funds, Minatom offered Gazprom the opportunity to invest in some of the partly completed nuclear plants. The argument was that the US$ 7.3 billion required for the whole 10 GWe (including the just-completed Rostov 1) would be quickly recouped from gas exports if the new nuclear plant reduced the need to burn that gas domestically.

In September 2006 Rosatom announced a target of nuclear providing 23% of electricity by 2020, thus commissioning two 1200 MWe plants per year from 2011 to 2014 and then three per year until 2020 – some 31 GWe and giving some 44 GWe of nuclear capacity then. By July 2012 this had been scaled back to give 30.5 GWe nuclear in 2020.

In October 2006 Russia formally adopted a US$ 55 billion nuclear energy development program, with $26 billion of this to 2015 coming from the federal budget. The balance would be from industry (Rosatom) funds, and no private investment was involved. The Minister of Finance strongly supported the program to increase nuclear share from 15.6% to 18.6% of total, hence improving energy security as well as promoting exports of nuclear power technology. After 2015 all funding would be from Rosatom revenues.

In September 2007 the first version of the following scheme was released, but noting that from 2012 to 2020 only two 1200 MWe units per year were within the "financial capacity of the federal task program". Accordingly, the third units for 2015 and 2016 were designated "proposed". In the February 2008 update of this (below), one 1200 MWe Tversk unit was brought forward to 2015 scheduled start-up, so was designated "planned":

New NPP Commissioning Program 2007

In February 2008, under the broader Master Plan for Electric Energy Facilities to 2020, the earlier federal target plan (FTP) to 2020 was endorsed with little change except than an extra five VVER-1200 units were added as "maximum scenario" or "extra" in the last few years to 2020. As well as the 4800 MWe capacity then under construction, a further 12,000 MWe was planned for completion mostly by 2016, and then a lot more by 2020. Several new sites were involved. Also the new 300 MWe units were listed as being VBER-300 PWR types.

More significantly, the Ministry of Industry and Energy (MIE) and Rosatom were charged with promptly developing an action plan to attract investment into power generation. It is envisaged that by 2020 much generation would be privatized and competitive, while the state would control natural monopoly functions such as the grid.

From January 2009 the FTP was supplemented by Rosatom's long-term activity program. This included Kursk 5 and the Baltic plant in Kaliningrad, both subject to private finance. However, capacity targets and expenditure were much as above. By 2030 nuclear share of electricity was expected to grow to 25%, from 16% then.

However, by April 2009 reduced electricity demand expectations caused the whole construction program outlined above to be scaled back, and some projects put on hold. Ten units were deferred pending "economic upturn and electricity demand growth", expected in about two years. See Table below, where three units were moved from planned to proposed accordingly. From mid 2009, half the capital for new nuclear plants would come from Rosatom budget and half from the state.

In July 2009 a revised federal target program (FTP) for 2010-2015 and until 2020 was approved and signed by the President. This put Kursk II 1-2 and Smolensk II 1-2 into the picture for completion by 2020, ahead of many other units, and they have been shown thus in the Table below. The first unit of the Baltic plant was to be complete in 2016.

In July 2012 the Energy Ministry published draft plans to commission only 10 GWe nuclear to 2020 – basically what was currently under construction including Kalinin 4, to give total 30.5 GWe producing 238 TWh/yr by then.

In November 2013 the Regional Energy Planning Scheme included construction at new sites in Tatarstan, Seversk and Kostroma (each 2x1200 MWe VVER), and Chelyabinsk, South Urals (2 x BN-1200) by 2030.

In February 2010 the government announced that Rosenergoatom’s investment program for 2010 amounted to RUR 163.3 billion, of which RUR 53 billion would come from the federal budget. Of the total, RUR 101.7 billion is for nuclear plant construction, almost half of this from Rosenergoatom funds. It includes the reactors listed below as under construction, as well as Leningrad II-2 and the Baltic plant. In March Rosatom said that it now intended to commission three new reactors per year from 2016.

In March 2011 the State Duma’s energy committee recommended construction of Kursk II with standard VVER-TOI reactors and updating FTP plans to have Units 1 and 2 put on line in 2020 and 2023. Rosatom was told to start engineering surveys for Kursk II in 2011. It has said that unit 1 must be in service by the time the first RBMK unit of phase I is closed, to ensure adequate supply to Moscow.

The FTP program is based on VVER technology at least to about 2030. But it highlights the goal of moving to fast neutron reactors and closed fuel cycle, for which Rosatom proposed two options, outlined below in the Transition to Fast Reactors section. In stage 1 of the second option, which was adopted, a 100 MWe lead-bismuth-cooled fast reactor is to be built, and in stage 2 over 2015-2020 a pilot demonstration 300 MWe lead-cooled BREST reactor and a multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor (MBIR) are to be built. In addition it is planned to build and commission a commercial complex to fabricate dense fuel, to complete construction of a pilot demonstration pyrochemical complex to fabricate BN fuel, and to test closed fuel cycle technologies. Fusion studies are included and the total R&D budget is RUR 55.7 billion, mostly from the federal budget. The FTP implementation is intended to result in a 70% growth in exports of high technology equipment, works and services rendered by the Russian nuclear industry by 2020. In 2012 the head of Rosatom said that the FTP was being accelerated to bring forward development and have a full range of fast reactor technologies with associated fuel cycles operating by 2020. Rosatom's R&D budget would be almost doubled by then to achieve this.

In 2009 Siemens announced that it would withdraw from Areva and forge a link with Rosatom. A memorandum of understanding then confirmed the intent to set up a joint venture with Rosatom as majority shareholder, developing Russian VVER designs, building new nuclear power plants, and upgrading existing nuclear plants. This was hailed by Mr Putin as a long-term strategic partnership. However, finalising the agreement was delayed pending Siemens disengaging from Areva, and in September 2011 Siemens announced that it would not proceed. In any case most of Siemens intellectual property remained with Areva, so it would have had little to contribute to Rosatom/ Atomenergoprom.

In October 2014 Rosatom resolved in principle to develop small and medium power reactors, though initially they are not expected to compare economically with larger units. In May 2014 Rosenergoatom was completing comparative assessment of VVER-600 and VBER-600 designs. The chosen design is likely to be built at Kola initially.

See also subsections: Transition to Fast Reactors, and Fast Reactors, in the Reactor Technology section below

The latest Federal Target Program (FTP) envisages a 25-30% nuclear share in electricity supply by 2030, 45-50% in 2050 and 70-80% by end of century.

Major Power Reactors under Construction, Planned and officially Proposed

Plant Reactor Type MWe gross (net expected) Status, start construction Start or commercial op'n
Floating NPP 1 for Pevek KLT-40S 35 x 2 (32x2) Const 5/09 2016-2018
Beloyarsk 4 BN-800 FBR 864 (789) Const start up Jun 2014
Novovoronezh II-1 VVER-1200/V-392M 1200 (1114) Const 6/08 start up Dec 2014
Rostov 3 VVER-1000/V-320 1100 (1011) Const 1983, resumed 9/09 first power Dec 2014
Leningrad II-1 VVER-1200/V-491 1170 (1085) Const 10/08 2016
Novovoronezh II-2 VVER-1200/V-392M 1200 (1114) Const 7/09 2015
Leningrad II-2 VVER-1200/V-491 1170 (1085) Const 4/10 2018
Rostov 4 VVER-1000/V-320 1100 (1011) Const 1983, first new concrete 6/10 6/2017
Baltic 1 (Kaliningrad) VVER-1200/V-491 1194 (1109) Const 4/12, suspended 6/13-6/14 2017 delayed
Subtotal of 10 under construction
9068 gross, 8382 net*
* IAEA PRIS August 2014
Nizhny Novgorod 1 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned, 2014 2019
Nizhny Novgorod 2 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned, 2015 2021
Leningrad II-3 VVER 1200/V-491 1200 Planned, 2015 2021
Leningrad II-4 VVER 1200/V-491 1200 Planned, 2016 2022
Kursk II-1 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned, 2015 12/2020
Kursk II-2 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned, 2016 12/2021
Kursk II-3 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned by 2025
Kursk II-4 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned by 2030
Smolensk II-1 VVER-TOI 1200 Planned, 2017 2022
Smolensk II-2 VVER-TOI 1200 Planned, 2018 2024
Smolensk II-3 VVER-TOI 1200 Planned by 2030
Smolensk II-4 VVER-TOI 1200 Planned by 2030
Tatar 1 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Tatar 2 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Seversk 1 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Seversk 2 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Tsentral/Kostroma 1 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Tsentral/Kostroma 2 VVER-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Beloyarsk 5 BN-1200 1200 Planned, 2017 by 2025
South Urals 1 BN-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
South Urals 2 BN-1200 1200 Planned by 2030
Kola II-1 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned, 2015 by 2025
Kola II-2 VVER-TOI 1300 Planned by 2030
Bashkirsk 1 VVER 1200 1200 Planned?
Bashkirsk 2 VVER 1200 1200 Planned?  
Baltic 2 (Kaliningrad) VVER 1200/V-491 1194 Suspended  
Dimitrovgrad SVBR-100 100 Planned, 2014 2017
Seversk BREST-300 300 Planned, 2016 2020
FNPP (for Sakha?) KLT-40S 40x2 Planned 2020
Primorsk 1 VK-300 or VBER-300 300 Planned 2019
Primorsk 2 VK-300 or VBER-300 300 Planned 2020
subtotal of 31 planned 32,780 gross
Note that the 3rd and 4th units of some of the above new plants (eg Novovoronezh, Smolensk) may be built ahead of others listed above.
        dates very tentative:
South Urals 3 BN-1200 1200 Proposed 2030
Zheleznogorsk MCC VBER-300 300 Proposed 2020?
Zheleznogorsk MCC VBER-300 300 Proposed 2020?
Novovoronezh II-3 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Novovoronezh II-4 VVER 1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tver 1 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tver 2 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tver 3 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tver 4 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Nizhny Novgorod 3 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Nizhny Novgorod 4 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tsentral 3 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Tsentral 4 VVER-1200 1200 Proposed ?
Beloyarsk 6 BN-1200/1600 1200/1600 Proposed (approved) ?
Balakova 5&6 VVER-1000 1000x2 Proposed RUSAL ?
Sakha ABV-6 18x2 Proposed ?
Subtotal of 18 units 'proposed' 16,000 approx

VVER-1200 is the reactor portion of the AES-2006 nuclear power plant, or for planned units beyond Leningrad II it may be VVER-TOI plant with VVER 1200/ V510 reactor. Rostov was also known as Volgodonsk, and construction of units 3&4 actually began in 1983 but was suspended indefinitely with relatively little work done. South Urals was to be BN-800, and now likely BN-1200.

Seversk is near Tomsk, Tver is near Kalinin, Nizhegorod is a new site near Nizhniy Novgorod, 400 km east of Moscow, and Tsentral (central) is at Buisk in Kostrama region. South Ural is at Ozersk, Chelyabinsk region, 140 km west of Chelyabinsk in Sverdlovsk region. Tatarskaya is in Kamskiye Polyany in Nizhnekamsk Region. Primorsk is in the far east, as is Vilyuchinsk in the Kamchatka region, and Pevek in the Chukotka Autonomous Region near Bilibino, which it will replace. Floating nuclear power or cogeneration plants are planned for Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka and Pevek, Chukotka. Tver and Tsentral are considered alternatives in the short term.

Rostov 3&4 (formerly Volgodonsk)

The environmental statement and construction application were approved by Rostechnadzor in May 2009, the construction licence was granted to Energoatom in June, and construction resumed about September (it had started in 1983). First new concrete for unit 4 was in June 2010. The plant is 13.5 km from the city on the banks of Volgodonsk Tsimlyansk reservoir. Rosatom brought forward the completion dates of the two units after deciding that they would have V-320 type of VVER with improved steam generators and capacity of 1100 MWe. This is expected to save some RUR 10 billion relative to the AES-2006 technology as it continues the construction done over 1983-86. OMZ's Izhorskiye Zavody facility at Izhora is providing the pressure vessel for unit 3. Nizhniy Novgorod Atomenergoproekt (NN AEP) is principal contractor for units 3&4, expected to cost 130 billion (US$ 4.1 billion) according to Rosenergoatom in August 2012. Ukraine's Turboatom is to provide the low-speed turbine generators for both units. Grid connection of unit 2 was in March 2010 and full commercial operation was in October. Unit 3 is expected on line in December 2014.

Novovoronezh II

Phase II is being built by Moscow AtomEnergoProekt, with work starting in 2007 and some involvement of NN AEP. This is the lead plant for deploying the V-392M version of the AES-2006 units. First concrete was poured for unit 1 of this (unit 6 at the site) in June 2008 and it is expected to be commissioned in 2014, with unit 2 following in 2015, at a total cost of US$ 5 billion for 2136 MWe net (1068 MWe net each). The reactor pressure vessel is due to be completed by OMZ Izhora in August 2010. The reactor pressure vessels are from OMZ Izhora and the advanced steam generators from ZiO-Podolsk, with 60-year life expectancy. Rostechnadzor licensed construction of unit 2 in October 2008 and construction started in July 2009. The plant is on one of the main hubs of the Russian grid.

Leningrad II

A general contract for Leningrad phase II AES-2006 plant was signed with St Petersburg AtomEnergoProekt (SPb AEP, merged with VNIPIET to become Atomproekt) in August 2007 and Rostechnadzor granted site licences in September 2007 for two units. A specific engineering, procurement and construction contract for the first two V-491 units was signed in Marchand Rostechnadzor issued a construction licence in June 2008. First concrete was poured on schedule for unit 1 in October 2008 and it was due to be commissioned in October 2013. However, a section of outer containment collapsed in 2011 and set back the schedule, as did subsequent manpower shortage, so that commissioning is now expected in 2016. Rostechnadzor granted a construction licence for the second reactor in July 2009, and first concrete was poured in April 2010. Commercial operation is due in 2018. Each reactor will also provide 1.05 TJ/hr (9.17 PJ/yr) of district heating. Gross power is 1170 MWe each, net expected 1085 MWe. They are designed to replace the oldest two Leningrad units.

The 2008 construction contract was for US$ 5.8 billion ($2480/kW) possibly including some infrastructure. Total project cost was estimated at $6.6 billion. It was reported in September 2011 that Titan-2, a major subcontractor, took over from SPb AEP as principal construction contractor, then in February 2012 that Spetsstroy of Russia (Federal Agency for Special Construction) would do so. In December 2013 Roesenergoatom transferred the project from Spetsstroy to Atomenergoproekt Moscow as principal contractor, while SPb AEP/VNIPIET/Atomproekt remained architect general. NIAEP-ASE also bid for the general contract in October 2013. Rosatom had said in February 2012 that it did not believe that SPb AEP should perform the full range of design, construction and equipment supply roles.

A design contract for the next two units (3 & 4) was signed with SPb AEP in September 2008, and public consultation on these was held in Sosnovy Bor in mid 2009. An environmental review by Rostechnadzor was announced for them in January 2010 and site development licences were granted in June, then renewed in April 2013. Rosenergoatom signed a contract with VNIPIET at the end of December 2013 to develop project documentation. It expects construction licences in 2014 and construction start in 2015.

Beloyarsk 4

See following section on Transition to Fast Reactors. Start-up was in June 2014, grid connection is due in October 2014, with commercial operation in 2015. Unit 5 as a BN-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013.

Nizhny Novgorod

The plant in Navashino District near Monakovo is eventually to comprise four AES-1200 units of 1150 MWe net and costing RUR 269 billion (US$ 9.4 billion), the first planned to come on line by 2019 to address a regional energy deficit. In February 2008 Rosatom appointed Nizhny-Novgorod Atomenergoproekt (NN-AEP or NIAEP) as the principal designer of the plant. Rostechnadzor issued a positive site review for units 1 & 2 early in 2010 and a site licence with prescription for site monitoring in January 2011. Rosatom's proposal to proceed with construction of two units was approved in November 2011. Site works started in 2012 and formal construction starts are expected in 2014 and 2015, with commissioning in 2019 and 2021. This will be the first VVER-TOI plant with rated capacity of 1300 MWe per unit. Preliminary costing is RUR 240 billion (7.38 billion).


A 4000 MWe nuclear plant was under construction and due on line from 1992, but construction ceased in 1990. Then a 2-unit VVER-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013. Both units are expected on line by 2030 in Kamskiye Polyany in Nizhnekamsk Region of Tatarstan.


The 2340 MWe Tsentral (Central) nuclear power plant is to be 5-10 km northwest of Buisk Town in the Kostroma region, on the Kostroma River. It was another of those deferred but following Rosatom's October 2008 decision to proceed, it appeared that construction might start in 2013 with the first unit completed in 2018. Then a 2-unit VVER-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013, with both units to be on line by 2030. Moscow Atomenergoproekt is the architect-engineer. Rostechnadzor has approved the site and a development licence was expected by mid 2010, then a construction licence in 2012. The cost of the project and infrastructure is expected to be RUR 130 billion ($ 5 billion).

South Urals

The plant near Ozersk in Chelyabinsk region has been twice deferred, and was then reported by local government to have three BN-1200 fast reactor units planned, instead of four VVER-1200. Then a 2-unit BN-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013, for completion by 2030. There is only enough cooling water (70 GL/yr) for two of them, and the third will depend on completion of the Suriyamskoye Reservoir.

Kola II

In January 2012 Rosenergoatom said that the replacement Kola II plant, about 10 km south of the present plant and on the shores of Lake Imandra, would be brought forward and built with two VVER-TOI units to come on line in 2020. Then a 2-unit VVER-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013. But in September 2014 Rosenergoatom was considering medium-sized units, either VVER-600 or VBER-600 for Kola.

Kursk II

In October 2011 Rosatom said that the first unit of Kursk II should be on line by the time Kursk 1 closes, then envisaged in 2016. In March 2011, the State Duma’s Energy Committee recommended that the government update the general scheme of deployment of electricity generators, to have Units 1 and 2 of Kursk II being commissioned in 2020 and 2023 as the lead project with VVER TOI types. The cost envisaged is RUR 440 billion ($15 billion). Kursk I-5 capacity had been planned in the federal target program and its abandonment leaves a likely base-load shortfall for UES in central Russia. 

Rosatom was told to start engineering surveys for Kursk II in 2011, and set up a task force of representatives from the nuclear industry and Kursk Region government to produce project documentation on construction of Kursk II. Up to 2000 construction workers are expected on site by the end of 2014, housed in Kurchatov. Site work commenced at the end of 2013, a site licence is expected in 2014, and construction start is planned for 2015, with 48 months construction time anticipated. Project expenditure in 2014 is expected to be RUR 3.5 billion. The timing for commissioning is now December 2020 and December 2021. A four-unit plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013, units 3&4 to be on line by 2030. In June 2012 Rosatom appointed Moscow AEP as designer, though a later report had Nizhny-Novgorod AEP (NIAEP) as architect general and principal contractor.

Smolensk II

Atomenergoproekt Moscow is architect engineer for VVER-TOI units to replace old RBMK capacity at Smolensk. Roesnergoatom’s investment concept was approved in 2011. Site surveys were undertaken from June 2013, and three potential sites were short-listed: near former villages Pyatidvorka (Roslavl District, 6 km from Smolensk I), Kholmets (Roslavl District) and Podmostki (Pochinki District). Then a four-unit VVER plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013, with two units on line by 2025 and two by 2030. Site works are due to start at Pyatidvorka in 2015, followed by construction in 2017, and the first unit is expected on line in 2022.


The first 1200 MWe unit of the Seversk AES-2006 plant 32 km northwest of Tomsk was due to start up in 2015 with the second in 2017, but has been postponed, and a decision on construction schedule was still unresolved in 2012, in the light of electricity demand. Certainly its priority is downgraded in 2013. Rosatom was ready to start construction in 2013, but awaited ministerial direction. Then a two-unit VVER-1200 plant was included in the Regional Energy Planning Scheme in November 2013, both units to be on line by 2030. The plant will also supply 7.5 PJ/yr of district heating.

Atomenrgopoekt Moscow is to build the plant at estimated cost of RUR 134 billion (US$ 4.4 billion). Rostechnadzor granted a site development licence in November 2009 and a further site licence in 2011. Site work has commenced. In 2010 Seversk was put on the updated general scheme of deployment of energy facilities, with the first reactor commissioning before 2020 and the second one in 2020-2025. Seversk is the site of a major enrichment plant and former weapons facilities. A design contract for the low-speed turbine generators has been signed between Moscow AEP which is responsible for design and engineering, and Alstom Atomenergomash. This will be the first Russian plant using the low-speed turbines.


Separately from the February 2008 plan, Rosatom energy-trading subsidiary InterRAO UES proposed a Baltic or Baltiyskaya AES-2006 nuclear plant in Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast to generate electricity for export, and with up to 49% European equity. Private or foreign equity would be an innovation for Russia. The plant was designed to comprise two 1200 MWe VVER units, V-491 model, sited at Neman, on the Lithuanian border and costing some RUR 194 billion (in 2009 value, EUR 4.6 billion, $6.8 billion), for 2300 MWe net. Project approval was confirmed by government decree in September 2009, following initial approval in mid-2008 as an amendment to the federal target program (FTP) of 2007. The mid-2011 business plan estimated the likely capital cost to be EUR 6.63 to 8.15 billion.

WorleyParsons was appointed technical consultant for the project. Rosenergoatom set up a subsidiary: JSC Baltic NPP to build and commission the plant. St Petersburg Atomenergoproekt - VNIPIET is the architect engineer, Nizhniy Novgorod AEP (NIAEP) is construction manager, with Atomstroyexport (ASE). TitanStroyMontazh is engineering subcontractor. Originally AEM Petrozavodskmash was to produce the pressure vessel for unit 1 but this was assigned to AEM-Tekhnologii at the Atommash plant. OMZ's Ishorskiye Zavody will produce the pressure vessel for unit 2 and the pressurisers for both units. Alstom-Atomenergomash will supply the Arabelle low-speed turbine generators for both units – the plant will be the JV's first customer, and the Baltic plant would be the first Russian plant to use major foreign components. (LMZ high-speed turbine generators had initially been approved.)

Site work began in February 2010. Expenditure to January 2012 was RUR 7.25 billion ($241 million), and that in 2012 was expected to be RUR 7 billion. Rostechnadzor issued a construction licence for unit 1 in November 2011 and first concrete was poured on (revised) schedule in April 2012, with the base completed in December 2012. Unit 1 was planned to come on line in October 2016, after 55 months construction, supplying Rosenergoatom. Commercial operation was due in 2017. Second unit construction was planned over 2013-18, with 48 months to first power and full operation in April 2018. NIAEP-ASE suspended construction in June 2013 (see below), pending a full review of the project by mid-2014, though some work on the containment was ongoing in following months. Rosenergoatom said that in October 2013 it had spent RUR 50-60 billion ($1.2 to 1.6 billion) on the project.

InterRAO UES is responsible for soliciting investment (by about 2014, well after construction start) and also for electricity sales. The Baltic plant directly competes with the plan for a new unit at Visaginas near Ignalina in Lithuania and with plans for new nuclear plants in Belarus and Poland. Rosenergoatom said that the plant is deliberately placed "essentially within the EU" and is designed to be integrated with the EU grid. Most of the power (87% in the mid 2011 business plan) would be exported to Germany, Poland and Baltic states. Transmission to northern Germany would be via a new undersea cable, and in 2011 Inter RAO and Alpiq agreed to investigate an 800 MWe undersea DC link to Germany's grid. Some EUR 1 billion in transmission infrastructure would be required. There is already some transmission capacity east through Lithuania and Belarus to the St Petersburg region if that were added to the options. The European equity would be in order to secure markets for the power. Lithuania was invited to consider the prospect, instead of building Visaginas as a Baltic states plus Poland project, but declined. However in April 2014 Rosatom said the Baltic plant was designed to “operate within the unified grid of the Baltics and North-West of Russia”. But now, due to potential isolation of the Kaliningrad Region grid, Rosatom “has to rebuild its project completely.” The polar crane was delivered in August 2014.

Czech power utility CEZ earlier expressed interest in the project, as did Iberdrola from Spain, whose engineering subsidiary already works at Kola, Balakovo and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants. In April 2010 Enel signed a wide-ranging agreement with Inter RAO which positioned it to take up to 49% of the plant, but this did not proceed. Rosatom earlier said that the project would not be delayed if 49% private equity or long-term sales contracts were not forthcoming.

However, in June 2013 construction was suspended due to lack of interest in the project from the Baltic states, Poland and Germany, all of whom have historical issues regarding Russia and/or Kaliningrad. NIAEP said it was investigating building some small nuclear plants in Kaliningrad instead – eight 40 MWe units such as those on floating nuclear power plants was mentioned as a possibility, and they would fit into the local energy system better, with its 500 MWe total requirement. In mid-2014 Rosenergoatom was considering VVER-600 from Gidropress with many of the same components as the original, and VBER-600 from OKBM, the latter being less developed so involving a two-year delay. A new schedule and site configuration, involving small units, was to be approved by mid-2014, but there had been no news of this to October. See also grid implications in Electricity Transmission Grids paper.

As well as the Baltic plant, two other ventures with Rusal (see below) will apparently require private equity.


The plant at Udomlya district and 4 km from Kalinin was being designed by Nizhny-Novgorod Atomenergoproekt (NN-AEP), and in January 2010 it was announced that Rostechnadzor would conduct an environmental review of it for the first two VVER-1200 units, these being on the general scheme of electricity generators deployment to 2020. No firm dates have been given for the project, though a site development licence was expected in March 2010.


Energoatom signed a RUR 9.98 billion purchase contract for the first floating nuclear power plant for Vilyuchinsk, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, in July 2009. The 2x35 MWe plant, named Academician Lomonosov, is due to be completed in 2011 and commissioned in 2012, but the project is delayed due to shipyard insolvency. The two reactors were installed in October 2013, and the shipyard expects to deliver the plant to Rosenergoatom in September 2016. See FNPP subsection below.


In December 2009 AKME-Engineering was set up by Rosatom and a partner to develop and operate a pilot power generating plant (PPGP), a 100 MWe SVBR unit, at Dimitrovgrad by 2017.* The design is also known as the MTBF-100. In 2010 AKME-Engineering contracted with Atomenergoproekt to design the pilot SVBR-100, with the RF State Research Centre Institute for Physics & Power Engineering (IPPE) at Obninsk. Construction at the State Scientific Centre – Research Institute for Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) is scheduled to take 42 months, from 2014 or 2015 to late 2018. In February 2013 AKME signed a contract with KomplektEnergo to supply the steam turbine for the pilot unit in 2016 and commission it in 2017. In May 2013 AKME-engineering was licensed for construction and operation of nuclear plants by Rostechnadzor, and in June AKME-Engineering secured the site adjacent to NIIAR. Site works had started in 2013.

* AKME-Engineering was set up by Rosatom and the En+ Group (a subsidiary of Russian Machines Co/ Basic Element Group) as a 50-50 JV. In 2011 JSC Irkutskenergo, an En+ subsidiary, took over the En+ 50% share. The main project participants are OKB Gidropress at Podolsk, VNIPIET OAO at St Petersburg, and the RF State Research Centre Institute for Physics & Power Engineering (IPPE) at Obninsk. The project cost was estimated at RUR 16 billion, and En+ was prepared to put in most of this, with Rosatom contributing the technology, based on naval experience. Since this is thus a public-private partnership, it was not basically funded from the federal budget. In 2014 a commercial partner was still being sought.

UES was reported to support construction of new nuclear plants in the regions of Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk (South Urals) and Vladimir, with two to four units at each.

Further Power Reactors Proposed, uncertain status  

Unit Type MWe each gross Start construction
Leningrad II 5-6
North-west 1 & 2
BWR VK-300
Plants with low priority for UES:  
Bashkira 1-4
Far East 1-4 PWR, 1/3 for Rusal smelter 1000  

Transition to Fast Reactors

The principal scheme of innovative nuclear power for Russia based on new technology platform envisages full recycling of fuel, balancing thermal and fast reactors, so that 100 GWe of total capacity requires only about 100 tonnes of input per year, from enrichment tails, natural uranium and thorium, with minor actinides being burned. About 100 t/yr of fission product wastes go to a geological repository. The BN-series fast reactor plans are part of Rosatom's so-called Proryv, or "Breakthrough," project, to develop fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle whose mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel will be reprocessed and recycled.

The BN-800 Beloyarsk 4 fast reactor designed by OKBM Afrikantov was intended to replace the BN-600 unit 3 at Beloyarsk, though the RUR 64 billion (US$ 2.05 billion) project was delayed by lack of funds following construction start in 2006. It is represented as the first Generation III reactor which, after 2020, will start to take a large share of Russian capacity as older designs are phased out. Fast reactors are projected as comprising some 14 GWe by 2030 and 34 GWe of capacity by 2050.

This first BN-800 unit started up in June 2014 and is expected to achieve commercial operation in 2015, following earlier delays in equipment supplies. The first of 2000 tonnes of sodium coolant (from France) was introduced in January 2013. Initial fuel will be uranium (about 75%) plus some MOX ones. It will change over to full load of pelletised MOX fuel by 2017 when the Zheleznogorsk MCC plant gets into full production and the fuel is tested. Initial vibropacked fuel will be made by NIIAR, initial pelletised MOX at PA Mayak. The construction funds included $280 million in 2008, RUR 6.7 billion ($227 million) in 2009, and similar in 2010. The first unit is intended to demonstrate the use of MOX fuel at industrial scale, including that made from weapons plutonium, and justify the closed fuel cycle technology. Further reactor details in Advanced Reactors paper.

In May 2009 St Petersburg Atomenergopoekt (SPb AEP) said it was starting design work on a BN-800 reactor for China, where two are planned at Sanming – Chinese Demonstration Fast Reactors (CDFR). They will use pelletised MOX fuel, initially from MCC. A high-level agreement was signed in October 2009, then another in November 2012, and an intergovernmental agreement relating to them was expected in 2012, but is still pending in 2014. NIAEP-Atomstroyexport said in July that a framework contract and contract for engineering design was expected by the end of the year.

The BN-1200 reactor is being developed by OKBM Afrikantov in Zarechny, and the design was expected to be complete by the end of 2014 with related R&D completed in 2016, partly funded by federal nuclear technology program. Design completion is now expected in 2017. The design is expected to significantly improve upon that of the BN-800. Rosatom sees this as a “Generation IV design with natural security” – an element of the Proryv (breakthrough) Project*, with closed fuel cycle. See reactor details in the Advanced Reactors paper.

* for large fast reactors, BN series and BREST.

OKBM expected to commission the first BN-1200 unit with MOX fuel in 2020, then eight more to 2030, moving to dense nitride U-Pu fuel. SPb AEP (merged with VNIPIET to become Atomproekt) also claims design involvement. Rosatom's Science and Technology Council in 2011 approved the BN-1200 reactor for Beloyarsk, and Rosatom expected to commit to this construction in 2014, once the BN-800 is operating. In May 2012 Rosenergoatom started environmental assessment for a BN-1200 unit as Beloyarsk 5. It will use an evaporative cooling tower, and could start construction in 2015 with commercial operation from 2020. Federal financing and Rosatom funds of RUR 102 billion ($3.3 billion) are envisaged.

OKBM envisages about 11 GWe of BN-1200 plants by 2030, possibly including South Urals NPP. The Chelyabinsk regional government has reported that three units are to be built at South Urals plant, coming on line from 2021. In November 2013 the Regional Energy Planning Scheme included construction of two BN-1200 units at South Urals by 2030.

Moving in the other direction, and downsizing from BN-800 etc, a pilot 100 MWe SVBR-100 unit is to be built next to RIIAR Dimitrovgrad by AKME-Engineering by about 2017. This is a modular lead-bismuth cooled fast neutron reactor design from OKB Gidropress, and is intended to meet regional needs in Russia and abroad. RUR 13.23 billion was allocated for this in February 2010, including RUR 3.75 billion from the federal budget. Rosatom is looking for additional investors. Details below and in the Small Nuclear Power Reactors paper.

Rosatom put forward two fast reactor implementation options for government decision in relation to the Advanced Nuclear Technologies Federal Program 2010-2020. The first focused on a lead-cooled fast reactor such as BREST with its fuel cycle, and assumed mobilisation of all available resources on this project with a total funding of about RUR 140 billion (about $3.1 billion). The second multi-track option was favoured, since it involved lower risks than the first. It would result in technical designs of the Generation IV reactor and associated closed fuel cycles technologies by 2014, and a technological basis of the future innovative nuclear energy system featuring the Generation IV reactors working in closed fuel cycles by 2020. A detailed design would be developed for a multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor (MBIR) by 2014 also. This second option was designed to attract more funds apart from the federal budget allocation, was favoured by Rosatom, and was accepted.

In January 2010 the government approved the federal target program (FTP) "New-generation nuclear energy technologies for the period 2010-2015 and up to 2020" designed to bring a new technology platform for the nuclear power industry based on fast neutron reactors. It anticipated RUR 110 billion to 2020 out of the federal budget, including RUR 60 billion for fast reactors, and subsequent announcements started to allocate funds among three types: BREST, SVBR and continuing R&D on sodium cooled types. The FTP implementation will enable commercializing new fast neutron reactors for Russia to build over 2020-2030. Rosatom's long-term strategy up to 2050 involves moving to inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle and MOX or nitride fuel.

Federal target Program Funding for Fast Neutron Reactors to 2020  

cooling Demonstration reactor timing Construction RUR billion R&D RUR billion Total RUR billion
Pb-Bi cooled SVBR 100 MWe by 2017 10.153 3.075 13.228
Na cooled (BN-600, BN-800) to 2016 0 5.366 5.366
Pb cooled BREST 300 MWe 2016-20 15.555 10.143 25.698
multiple MBIR 150 MWt 2012-20 11.390 5.042 16.432
  Total:   37.1   60.7

Source: Government decree #50, 2010. Mosr (RUR 9.5 billion) of the funding for SVBR construction is from "other sources".

In September 2012 Rosatom announced that a pilot demonstration BREST-300 fast reactor with associated fuel cycle facilities including dense nitride fuel fabrication would be built at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk, near Tomsk. A construction schedule was presented at a Proryv (breakthrough) Project meeting at SCC in March 2013. SCC hopes to obtain a siting licence for BREST-OD-300 in 2014. The State Environmental Commission of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor) issued a positive statement on the construction licence application package for the pilot demonstration power complex (PDPC) and fuel fabrication module in June 2014. Rostechnadzor now needs to give approval. The PDPC comprises three phases: the fuel fabrication/re-fabrication module, a nuclear power plant with BREST-OD-300 reactor, and used nuclear fuel reprocessing module. In April 2014 the fuel fabrication/re-fabrication module was granted a positive statement by the State Expert Review Authority of Russia.

A decision to proceed depends on successful testing of the nitride fuel in BN-600 reactor from the end of 2013. The reactor commissioning is set for 2020. RUR 25 billion ($809 million) has been budgeted for the reactor and RUR 17 billion ($550 million) for the fuel cycle facilities, though it appears that only RUR 15.555 billion would come from the federal budget. NIKIET finished the BREST design in 2014, to allow construction over 2016-20. If it is successful as a 300 MWe unit, a 1200 MWe (2800 MWt) version will follow.

Starting 2020-25 it is envisaged that fast neutron power reactors will play an increasing role in Russia, though these will probably be new designs such as BREST with a single core and no blanket assembly for plutonium production. An optimistic scenario has expansion to 90 GWe nuclear capacity by 2050.

Design of the 150 MWt multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor (MBIR) was finalised in 2014 and the contract let to AEM-Technologies, with completion expected in 2020 at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR or NIIAR) in Dimitrovgrad. It will be a multi-loop research reactor capable of testing lead, lead-bismuth and gas coolants, and running on MOX fuel. It will be part of an international research centre at RIAR’s site. Rostechnadzor granted a site licence to RIAR in August 2014. The project is open to foreign collaboration, in connection with the IAEA INPRO program. See also R&D section in the paper on Russia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

See also Fast Reactors, in the Reactor Technology section below.

Aluminium and nuclear power

In 2006 the major aluminium producer SUAL (which in March 2007 became part of RUSAL) signed an agreement with Rosatom to support investment in new nuclear capacity at Kola, to power expanded aluminium smelting there from 2013. Four units totalling 1000 MWe were envisaged for Kola stage 2 underpinned by a 25-year contract with SUAL, but economic feasibility is in doubt and the project appears to have been dropped and replaced by two others.

Since 2007 Rosatom and RUSAL, now the world's largest aluminium and alumina producer, have been undertaking a feasibility study on a nuclear power generation and aluminium smelter at Primorye in Russia's far east. This proposal is taking shape as a US$ 10 billion project involving four 1000 MWe reactors and a 600,000 t/yr smelter with Atomstroyexport having a controlling share in the nuclear side. The smelter would require about one third of the output from 4 GWe, and electricity exports to China and North and South Korea are envisaged.

In October 2007 a $8 billion project was announced for the world's biggest aluminium smelter at Balakovo in the Saratov region, complete with two new nuclear reactors to power it. The 1.05 million tonne per year aluminium smelter is to be built by RUSAL and would require about 15 billion kWh/yr. The initial plan was for the existing Balakovo nuclear power plant of four 950 MWe reactors to be expanded with two more – the smelter would require a little over one-third of the output of the expanded power plant. However, in February 2010 it was reported that RUSAL proposed to build its own 2000 MWe nuclear power station, Balakovo AES2, with construction to start in 2011. The overall budget for the energy and metals complex was estimated by the Minister of Investment in the Saratov District to be about $12 billion. Land has been allotted for the project and design has commenced. Aluminium smelting is energy-intensive and requires reliable low-cost electricity to be competitive. Increasingly it is also carbon-constrained – this smelter will emit about 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year just from anode consumption.

RUSAL has announced an agreement with the regional government which will become effective when the nuclear plant expansion is approved by Rosatom or an alternative is agreed. Balakovo units 5 & 6 have been listed as prospective for some time but were dropped off the 2007-08 Rosatom plan for completing 26 new power reactors by 2020 as they were low priority for UES grid supply. Balakovo is on the Volga River 800 km SE of Moscow.

Meanwhile, and relevant to these proposals, in 2011 Renova's Integrated Energy Systems (IES) Holding, Russia’s largest privately-owned power producer and supplier, agreed to sell its 141 MWe Bogoslovskaya CHP plant to RUSAL in mid 2012, along with the rights to develop a new 230 MWe combined cycle gas turbine unit at the plant, in the central region of Sverdlovsk. This deal, along with another for a supply contract from the Federal Grid Company, enables RUSAL's Bogoslovosk smelter to continue operating. These arrangements were made at presidential level, and will absolve the Bogoslovskaya smelter from paying the cross-subsidy from industrial consumers to other electricity users that is inherent in the general distribution tariff.

Nuclear icebreakers and merchant ship

Nuclear propulsion has proven technically and economically essential in the Russian Arctic where operating conditions are beyond the capability of conventional icebreakers. The power levels required for breaking ice up to 3 metres thick, coupled with refuelling difficulties for other types of vessels, are significant factors. The nuclear fleet has increased Arctic navigation on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) from two to ten months per year, and in the Western Arctic, to year-round. Greater use of the icebreaker fleet is expected with developments on the Yamal Peninsula and further east. For instance the Yamal LNG project is expected to need 200 shipping movements per year from Sabetta at the mouth of the Ob River. The fleet is operated by Atomflot, a Rosatom division, and is commercially vital to northern mineral and oil/gas developments. The newest icebreakers being built have 34-metre beam, able to open a path for large ships.

The icebreaker Lenin was the world’s first nuclear-powered surface vessel (20,000 dwt) and remained in service for 30 years (1959-89), though new reactors were fitted in 1970.

It led to a series of larger icebreakers, the six 23,500 dwt Arktika-class, launched from 1975. These powerful vessels have two 171 MWt OK-900 reactors delivering 54 MW at the propellers and are used in deep Arctic waters. The Arktika was the first surface vessel to reach the North Pole, in 1977. The seventh and largest Arktika class icebreaker – 50 Years of Victory (50 Let Pobedy) entered service in 2007. It is 25,800 dwt, 160 m long and 20m wide, and is designed to break through ice up to 2.8 metres thick. Its performance in service has been impressive.

For use in shallow waters such as estuaries and rivers, two shallow-draught Taymyr-class icebreakers of 18,260 dwt with one reactor delivering 35 MW were built in Finland and then fitted with their nuclear steam supply system in Russia. They are built to conform with international safety standards for nuclear vessels and were launched from 1989.

Larger third-generation 'universal' LK-60 icebreakers are being built as dual-draught (8.55 or 10.5m) wide-beam (34m) ships of 25,450 dwt or 33,540 dwt with ballast, able to handle three metres of ice. In August 2012 the United Shipbuilding Corporation won the contract for the first new-generation LK-60 icebreaker powered by two RITM-200 reactors of 175 MWt each, delivering 60 MW at the propellers via twin turbine-generators and three motors. They would be built by subsidiary Baltijsky Zavod Shipbuilding. Rosatomflot expects to have the pilot version commissioned in 2018 at a cost of RUR 37 billion. In January 2013 Rosatom called for bids to build two more of these universal icebreaker vessels (project 22220), for delivery in 2019 and 2020, and in May 2104 a contract for RUR 84.4 billion ($2.4 billion) was signed with USC, the vessels to be built at the same shipyard. In August 2013 Rostechnadzor licensed Baltijsky Zavod Shipbuilding to install the RITM-200 reactor units from OKBM Afrikantov for the pilot model. The keel of Arctica was laid in November 2013.

A more powerful LK-110 icebreaker of 110 MW net and 55,600 dwt is planned.

Diagram of LK-60 icebreaker (Source: Rosatom)  

In 1988 the NS Sevmorput was commissioned in Russia, mainly to serve northern Siberian ports. It is a 61,900 tonne 260 m long lash-carrier (taking lighters to ports with shallow water) and container ship with ice-breaking bow. It is powered by the same KLT-40 reactor as used in larger icebreakers, delivering 32.5 propeller MW from the 135 MWt reactor and it needed refuelling only once to 2003.

Russian experience with nuclear powered Arctic ships totals about 300 reactor-years in 2009. In 2008 the Arctic fleet was transferred from the Murmansk Shipping Company under the Ministry of Transport to FSUE Atomflot, under Rosatom.

Floating nuclear power plants (FNPP)

Rosatom was planning to build seven or eight floating nuclear power plants by 2015. The first of them was to be constructed and tehn remain at Severodvinsk with intended completion in 2010, but plans changed. Each FNPP has two 35 MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors. (If primarily for desalination this set-up is known as APVS-80.) The operating life is envisaged as 38 years: three 12-year campaigns with a year's maintenance outage in between.

A decision to commit to building a series is envisaged in 2014 when the first is near commissioning. The actual hulls might be built in South Korea or China, and fitted out in Russia. Rosenergoatom earlier signed an agreement with JSC Kirov Factory to build further units, and Kirov subsidiary Kirov Energomash was expected to be the main non-nuclear contractor on these.

The keel of the first floating nuclear power plant, named Academician Lomonosov, was laid in April 2007 at Sevmash in Severodvinsk, but in August 2008 Rosatom cancelled the contract (apparently due to the military workload at Sevmash) and transferred it to the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard at St Petersburg, which has experience in building nuclear icebreakers. After signing a new RUR 9.98 billion contract in February, new keel-laying took place in May 2009 and the two reactors were delivered from OKBM Afrikantov by August. The 21,500 tonne hull (144 metres long, 30 m wide) was launched at the end of June 2010.

Plans for floating nuclear power plants  

The site originally planned for its deployment was Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka peninsula, to ensure sustainable electricity and heat supplies to the naval base there. Completion and towing to the site is expected in 2012 and grid connection in 2013, but due to insolvency of the shipyard JSC Baltijsky Zavod* and ensuing legal processes it is delayed considerably. Barely any work was done over 2011-12 after some RUR 2 billion allocated to finance the construction apparently disappeared. The state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation acquired the shipyard in 2012 and a new contract with Baltijsky Zavod-Sudostroyeniye (BZS), the successor of the bankrupt namesake, was signed in December 2012. The cost of completing the FNPP was then put at RUR 7.631 billion ($248 million). The two reactors were installed in October 2013. Rosenergoatom now hopes to take delivery in September 2016. In June 2009 Rostechnadzor approved the environmental review for the siting license for the facility, as well as the justification of investment in it.

* a subsidiary of privately-owned United Industrial Corporation.

The reactor assembling and acceptance tests were carried out at Nizhniy Novgorod Machine Engineering Plant (NMZ). Three companies had contributed: OKBM (development of design and technical follow-up of the manufacture and testing), Izhorskiye Zavody (manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel), and NMZ (manufacture of component parts and reactor assembling). The revised cost was reported as being RUR 16 billion (RUR 229,000/kW), but this figure was expected to fall for subsequent units.

The second plant of this size was planned for Pevek on the Chukotka peninsula in the Chaun district of the far northeast, near Bilibino, and designed to replace it and a 35 MWe thermal plant as a major component of the Chaun-Bilibino industrial hub. However, at the end of 2012 the Ministries of Defence, Energy and Industry agreed to make Pevek the site for the delayed first FNPP unit. Roesenergoatom said that the tariff revenue of Chukotka made it more attractive than the Vilyuchinsk naval base, which is expected to have natural gas connected in 2014. Although the Chukotka government has expressed scepticism about costs of power, as of October 2014 it appears that Pevek will be the site for the first plant, from 2017.

The third site is Chersky or Sakha in Yakutia. In June 2010 a "roadmap" for deployment of up to eight further FNPPs was expected, on the occasion of launching the barge for the first, but it has not appeared. As of early 2009, four floating plants were designated for northern Yakutia in connection with the Elkon uranium mining project in southern Yakutia, and in 2007 an agreement was signed with the Sakha Republic (northeast Yakutia region) to build one of them, using smaller ABV-6 reactors. Five were intended for use by Gazprom for offshore oil and gas field development and for operations on the Kola peninsula near Finland and the Yamal peninsula in central Siberia. There is also perceived to be considerable export potential for the FNPPs, on a fully-serviced basis. Electricity cost is expected to be much lower than from present alternatives.

In May 2014 the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) signed an agreement with Rosatom to cooperate in construction of floating nuclear cogeneration plants for China offshore islands. These would be built in China but be based on Russian technology, and possibly using Russian KLT-40S reactors. 

The larger end of the Russian FNPP range would use a pair of 325 MWe VBER-300 reactors on a 49,000 tonne barge, and a smaller one could use a pair of RITM-200 reactors on a 17,500 t barge, as successor to the KLT-40. ATETs-80 and ATETs-200 are twin-reactor cogeneration units using KLT-40 and may be floating or land-based. The former produces 85 MWe plus 120,000 m3/day of potable water.

The small ABV-6 reactor is 38 MW thermal and a pair mounted on a 97-metre, 8700 tonne barge is known as Volnolom floating NPP, producing 12-18 MWe plus 40,000 m3/day of potable water by reverse osmosis.


In addition, 5 GW of thermal power plants (mostly AST-500 integral PWR type) for district and industrial heat will be constructed at Arkhangelesk (4 VK-300 units commissioned to 2016), Voronezh (2 units 2012-18), Saratov, Dimitrovgrad and (small-scale, KLT-40 type PWR) at Chukoyka and Severodvinsk. Russian nuclear plants provided 11.4 PJ of district heating in 2005, and this is expected to increase to 30.8 PJ by about 2010. (A 1000 MWe reactor produces about 95 PJ per year internally to generate the electricity.)

Heavy engineering and turbine generators

The main reactor component supplier is OMZ's Komplekt-Atom-Izhora facility which is doubling the production of large forgings so as to be able to manufacture three or four pressure vessels per year from 2011. OMZ subsidiary Izhorskiye Zavody is expected to produce the forgings for all new domestic AES-2006 model VVER-1200 nuclear reactors (four per year from 2016) plus exports. At present Izhora can produce the heavy high-quality forgings required for Russia's VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors at the rate of two per year. These forgings include reactor pressure vessels, steam generators, and heavy piping. In 2008 the company rebuilt its 12,000 tonne hydraulic press, claimed to be the largest in Europe, and a second stage of work will increase that capacity to 15,000 tonnes.

In May 2012 Rosenergoatom said that rector pressure vessels for its VVER-TOI reactors would be made by both Izhorskiye Zavody and the Ukrainian works Energomashspetsstal (EMSS) with Russian Petrozavodskmash.

Petrozavodskmash makes steam generators and has the contract for RPV and various internals for Baltic 1 reactor. Izhorskiye Zavody is expected to supply these components for unit 2.

ZiO-Podolsk also makes steam generators, including those for Belene/ Kozloduy 7.

Turbine generators for the new plants are mainly from Power Machines (Silovye Mashiny – Silmash) subsidiary LMZ, which has six orders for high-speed (3000 rpm) turbines: four of 1200 MWe for Novovoronezh and Leningrad, plus smaller ones for Kalinin and Beloyarsk. The company plans also to offer 1200 MWe low-speed (1500 rpm) turbine generators from 2014, and is investing RUB 6 billion in a factory near St Petersburg to produce these. Silmash is 26% owned by Siemens.

Alstom Atomenergomash (AAEM) is a joint venture between French turbine manufacturer Alstom and Atomenergomash (AEM, an AEP subsidiary), which will produce low-speed turbine generators based on Alstom's Arabelle design, sized from 1200 to 1800 MWe. The Baltic plant will be the first customer, in a RUB 35 billion order, with Russian content about 50%. This will increase to over 70% for subsequent projects. It will produce the Arabelle units at AEM's newly-acquired Atommash plant at Volgodonsk for delivery in 2015.

Ukraine's Turboatom is offering a 1250 MWe low-speed turbine generator for the VVER-TOI. Rosenergoatom says it insists on having at least two turbine vendors, and prefers three.

Reactor Technology

In September 2006 the technology future for Russia was focused on four elements:

  • Serial construction of AES-2006 units, with increased service life to 60 years,
  • Fast breeder BN-800,
  • Small and medium reactors – KLT-40 and VBER-300,
  • High temperature reactors (HTR).

Since 2006 the SVBR-100 has come to the fore, and HTRs have disappeared from the news.

VVER-1000, AES-92, AES-91

The main reactor design being deployed until now has been the V-320 version of the VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor with 950-1000 MWe net output. It is from OKB Gidropress (Experimental Design Bureau Hydropress), has 30-year basic design life and dates from the 1980s. A later version of this for export is the V-392, with enhanced safety and seismic features, as the basis of the AES-92 power plant. All models have four coolant loops, with horizontal steam generators. Maximum burn-up is 60 GWd/tU. VVER stands for water-cooled, water-moderated energy reactor.

Advanced versions of this VVER-1000 with western instrument and control systems have been built at Tianwan in China and are being built at Kudankulam in India - as AES-91 and AES-92 nuclear power plants respectively. The former was bid for Finland in 2002 and for Sanmen and Yangjiang in China in 2005, while the AES-92 was accepted for Belene in Bulgaria in 2006. These have 40-year design life. (Major components of the two designs are the same except for slightly taller pressure vessel in AES-91, but cooling and safety systems differ. The AES-92 has greater passive safety features features - 12 heat exchangers for passive decay heat removal, the AES-91 has extra seismic protection. The V-428 in the AES-91 is the first Russian reactor to have a core-catcher, V-412 in AES-92 also has core catcher.)

VVER-1200, AES-2006, MIR-1200

Development of a third-generation standardised VVER-1200 reactor of about 1170 MWe net folloowed, as the basis of the AES-2006 power plant. Rosatom drew upon Gidropress, OKBM, Kurchatov Institute, Rosenergoatom, Atomstroyexport, three Atomenergoproekt outfits, VNIINPP and others. Two design streams emerged: one from Atomproekt in St Petersburg with V-491 reactor, and one from Atomenergoproekt in Moscow with V-392M reactor.

Both versions provide about 1200 MWe gross from 3200 MWt, along with about 300 MWt for district heating. This is an evolutionary development of the well-proven VVER-1000/V-320 and then the third-generation V-392 in the AES-92 plant (or the AES-91 for Atomproekt version), with longer life (60 years for non-replaceable equipment, not 30), greater power, and greater thermal efficiency (34.8% net instead of 31.6%). Compared with the V-392, it has the same number of fuel assemblies (163) but a wider pressure vessel, slightly higher operating pressure and temperature (329ºC outlet), and higher burn-up (up to 70 GWd/t). It retains four coolant loops. Refueling cycle is up to 24 months. Core catchers filled with non-metallic materials are under the pressure vessels. Construction time for serial units is "no more than 54 months".

The lead units are being built at Novovoronezh II (V-392M), to start operation in 2014-15, and at Leningrad II (V-491) for 2016-18. Both plants will use Areva's Teleperm safety instrument and control systems. Seversk, South Ural and Central are listed by Moscow Atomenergoproekt as the next projects. Atomproekt’s Leningrad II with V-491 reactor is quoted as the reference plant for further units at Tianwan in China. The two AES-2006 plants are very similar apart from safety systems configuration.

The Novovoronezh V-392M units are expected to provide 1200 MWe gross, 1068 MWe net. Atomernergoproekt Moscow has installed what it calls dry protection here, a 144-tonne structure surrounding the reactor core that reduces emission of radiation and heat. It consists of a steel cylinder with double walls, 7m diameter, with the space between them filled with specially formulated concrete. This gives it better aircraft crash resistance than V-491. They have passive decay heat removal by air circulation.

The Leningrad V-491 has water tanks high up in the structure so is better for Finland and central Europe rather than seismic sites (DBGM is only 120 Gal). The V-392M requires less water for safety systems, and can be air-cooled for decay heat.

Atomproekt’s Leningrad V-491 units are expected to provide 1200 MWe gross. They have four trains of active safety systems, with water tanks high up in the structure to provide water cooling for decay heat, and is more suited to Finland and central Europe rather than seismic sites (DBGM is only 250 Gal). Atomproekt’s AES-2006 has two steam turbine variants: Russian Silmash high-speed version for Russia, or Alstom Arabelle low-speed turbine as proposed for Hanhikivi and MIR-1200 (Silmash plans to produce low-speed turbines from 2014).

A typical AES-2006 plant will be a twin set-up with two of these OKB Gidropress V-491 or V-392M reactor units expected to run for 60 years with capacity factor of 92%, and probably with Silmash turbine generators. Capital cost was said to be US$ 1200/kW (though the first contract of them is more like $2100/kW) and construction time 54 months. They have enhanced safety including that related to earthquakes and aircraft impact with some passive safety features and double containment.

For Europe, the basic Atomproekt V-491 St Petersburg version has been slightly modified by Atomproekt as the MIR-1200 (Modernized International Reactor), and bid for Temelin 3&4. It is also selected for Hanhikivi in Finland, as AES-2006 E, with ‘extended list of accidents and external impacts’ including higher seismic tolerance. As of late 2014 Gidropress still designated the reactor unit V-491.


A further evolution, or finessing, of Moscow Atomenergoproekt’s version of the AES-2006 power plant with the V-392M reactor is the VVER-TOI (typical optimized, with enhanced information) design for the AES-2010 plant, the VVER-1200 reactor being designated V-510 by Gidropress. Rosatom says that this is planned to be standard for new projects in Russia and worldwide. This has an upgraded pressure vessel with four welds rather than six, and will use a new steel which “removes nearly all limitations on RPV operation in terms of radiation embrittlement of metal”, making possible a service life of more than 60 years. It has increased power to 3300 MWt, 1255 MWe gross (nominally 1300), improved core design to increase cooling reliability, further development of passive safety with at least 72-hour grace period requiring no operator intervention after shutdown, lower construction and operating costs, and 40-month construction time. It is claimed to require only 130-135 tonnes of natural uranium (compared with typical 190 tU now) per gigawatt year. It will use a low-speed turbine-generator.

The project was initiated in 2009 and the completed design was presented to the customer, Rosenergoatom at the end of 2012. The design aim was to try and save 20% of the cost. It was submitted to Rostechnadzor in 2013 for licensing, with a view to subsequent international certification in accordance with EUR requirements as the standard future export model. EUR approval is seen as basic in many markets, notably China. In 2012 Rosatom announced that it intended to apply for UK design certification for the VVER-TOI design with a view to Rusatom Overseas building them in UK. This application is expected in 2015, in conjunction with Rolls-Royce.

It appears the first units will be at Nizhny Novgorod, then Akkuyu in Turkey, then Kola II, Kursk II and Smolensk II. In June 2012 Rosatom said it would apply for VVER-1200 design certification in UK and USA, through Rusatom Overseas, with the VVER-TOI version. Development involved OKB Gidropress (chief designer), NRC Kurchatov Institute (scientific supervisor), All-Russian Scientific and Research Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Operation (VNIIAES – architect-engineer), and NIAEP-ASE jointly with Alstom (turbine island designer). 

A Rosenergoatom account of the safety features of the reactor is on the Nuclear Engineering International website, and Gidropress account.

Russian PWR nuclear power reactors*

Generic reactor type Reactor plant model Whole power plant
VBER-300   (under development) OKBM, 325 MWe gross, based on KLT-40
VVER-200 - prototype VVER
VVER-440 V-179 Novovoronezh 3-4, prototype VVER-440
V-230 Kola 1-2, EU units closed down
V-213 Kola 3-4, Loviisa, Paks, Dukovany, Bohunice V2, Mochovce
VVER-640 V-407 (under development), Gen III+, Gidropress
VVER-300 V-478 (under development. based on V-407), Gen III+, Gidropress
VVER-600 V-498 (under development, based on V-491), Gen III+, proposed for Baltic, Gidropress
VVER-1000 V-187 Novovoronezh 5, prototype VVER-1000
V-320 most Russian & Ukraine plants, Kozloduy 5-6, Temelin
V-338 Kalinin 1-3, Temelin 1&2, S. Ukraine 2
V-446 based on V-392, adapted to previous Siemens work, Bushehr
V-413 AES-91
V-428 AES-91 Tianwan and Vietnam, based on V-392, Gen III
V-428M Tianwan 4&5, later version
V-412 AES-92 Kudankulam, based on V-392, Gen III
V-392 AES-92 – meets EUR standards, Armenia, Khmelnitsky 3-4, Gen III
V-392B AES-92
V-466 AES-91/99 Olkiluoto bid, also Sanmen, developed from V-428, Gen III
V-466B AES-92 Belene/ Kozloduy 7, developed from V-412 & V-466, 60-year lifetime, 1060 MWe gross, Gen III, Gidropress
VVER-1200 V-392M AES-2006 by Moscow AEP and Gidropress, Novovoronezh, Seversk, Central, Smolensk, South Ural, Akkuyu, Rooppur; Developed from V-392 and V-412, Gen III+, 1170 MWe gross, more passive safety than V-491, developed to VVER-TOI.
V-491 AES-2006 Leningrad, Baltic, Belarus, Hanhikivi, Tianwan 7&8, Paks, Ninh Thuan 1; developed from AES-91 V-428 by Atomproekt and Gidropress, Gen III+, 1170 MWe gross, developed to MIR-1200 for EUR Temelin bid.
VVER-TOI V-510 AES-2010, Gen III+, developed from V-392M
VVER-1200A V-501 (concept proposal) AES-2006, Gen III+
VVER-1300 V-488 AES-2006M, Gen III+, Gidropress
VVER-1500 V-448 (under development), Gen III+
VVER-1800   (concept proposal)
VVER-SCP V-393 (concept proposal), supercritical, Gen IV

AES=NPP. Early V numbers referred to models which were widely built in several countries, eg V-230, V-320. Then the V-392 seemed to be a general export version of the V-320. Later V numbers are fairly project-specific. Broadly the first digit of the number is the VVER generation, the second is the reactor system and the third – and any suffix – relates to the building.
Generation III or III+ ratings are as advised by Gidropress, but not necessarily accepted internationally.

* V-392M has two active safety channels, while V-491 has four, and turbine hall layouts are also different. In the V-392M there is a focus placed on avoidance of redundancy, aiming at higher cost-effectiveness of the plant construction and operation. Both V-392M and V-491 designs include a common emergency core cooling system (ECCS) passive section, but in the V-392M the ECCS active section is represented by a combined two-channel high and low pressure system, while the V-491 utilizes a segregated four-channel high and low pressure system. The V-392M design features a closed two-channel steam generator emergency cool-down system, whereas the V491 uses a traditional four-channel emergency feedwater system. To mitigate consequences of beyond design basis accidents involving total loss of AC power sources, both designs use a passive heat removal system, which is air-cooled in the V-392M and water-cooled in the V-491. Additionally, the V-392M design is fitted with a four-channel emergency passive core flooding system.

While Gidropress is responsible for the actual 1200 MWe reactor, Moscow AEP and Atomproekt St Petersburg are going different ways on the cooling systems, and one or the other may be chosen for future plants once Leningrad II and Novovoronezh II are operating. Passive safety systems prevail in Moscow’s V-392M design, while St Petersburg’s V-491 design focuses on active safety systems based on Tianwan V-428 design.

For the immediate future, Gidropress shows the VVER-1200/V-392M and V-491 reactors evolving into VVER-1300/V-488 (in AES-2006M power plant) four-loop designs, and into the VVER-1200A/V-501 (similar, but two-loop design) reactors in the next few years. This then evolves to the VVER-1800 with three loops. The AES-2006M has an uprated VVER-1200 with less conservative design and new steam generators, giving it 1300 MWe. The VVER-1200A/V-501 is expected to have lower construction cost. The four-loop VVER-1200 also evolves to the half-sized VVER-600 with only two loops.


About 2005 Rosatom (the Federal Atomic Energy Agency) promoted the basic design for VVER-1500 pressurised water reactors by Gidropress as a priority. Design was expected to be complete in 2007, but the project was shelved in 2006. It remains a four-loop design, 42350 MWt producing 1500 MWe gross, with increased pressure vessel diameter to 5 metres, 241 fuel assemblies in core enriched to 4.4%, burn-up up 45-55 and up to 60 GWd/t and life of 60 years. If revived, it will be a Generation III+ model meeting EUR criteria.

Medium VVER

Another reactor type with advanced safety features (passive safety systems) which was under development is the VVER-640 (V-407), an 1800 MWt, 640 MWe unit originally developed by Gidropress jointly with Siemens. After apparently beginning construction of the first at Sosnovy Bor, funds ran out and it disappeared from plans. However, it is back on the drawing boards, now as a Generation III+ type, with four cooling loops, low power density, low-enriched fuel (3.6%), passive safety systems, 33.6% thermal efficiency and only 45 GWd/t burn-up. In March 2013 SPbAEP (merged with VNIPIET to become Atomproekt) said that subject to Rosatom approval it could have a VVER-640 project ready to go possibly at the Kola site by the end of 2014. The project partners – Atomenergomash, OKB Gidropress, Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering (CDBME) of the Russian Shipbuilding Agency, OMZ’s Izhorskiye Zavody, Kurchatov Institute, and VNIPIET – “confirmed its readiness for updating aiming at commercialization.” In May 2013 Atomenergoproekt said it has already been discussing with VNIPIET the feasibility and practicability of using the VVER-640 project “as the starting point for the development of next-generation medium-power NPPs, including with the use of passive safety systems”.

Since 2008 OKB Gidropress with SPb AEP and Kurchatov Institute has also been developing a 2-loop VVER-600 (project V-498) from V-491 (1200 MWe, 4-loop), using the same basic equipment but no core catcher, as a Generation III+ type. In December 2011 it signed a contract with the Design and Engineering Branch of Rosenergoatom for R&D related to the VVER-600 reactor, though this is not part of any federal Rosatom program. Gidropress presented the design to Rosenergoatom in February 2013, saying a project package could be ready in two years. It will be capable of load-following, and have 60-year life. Rosenergoatom has been considering it for the Baltic plant site as a straightforward option if the 1200 MWe units are abandoned.

Gidropress is also developing a VVER-300 unit from the delayed VVER-640.


A Generation IV Gidropress project in collaboration with Generation IV International Forum is the supercritical VVER (VVER-SKD or VVER-SCWR) with higher thermodynamic efficiency (45%) and higher breeding ratio (0.95) and oriented towards the closed fuel cycle. Focus is on structural materials and fuels. Size ranges 300 to 1700 MW. The SPA Central Research Institute of Machine Engineering Technology (TsNIITMASH) in Moscow and OKB Giidropress are involved in the draft proposals. OKB Gidropress says that “Such reactors are expected to increase significantly thermal energy conversion efficiency, move to the fast neutron spectrum in the reactor core and, by thus, substantially improve parameters of breeding of the secondary nuclear fuel in the reactor.”

Fast Reactors

For context, see also above section on Transition to Fast Reactors.

The BN-800 fast neutron (bystry neutron) reactor from OKBM Afrikantov and Atomproekt being built at Beloyarsk was designed to supersede the BN-600 unit there and utilise MOX fuel with both reactor-grade and weapons plutonium. It is 2100 MWt, 864 MWe gross, 789 MWe net, and have fuel burn-up of 66 GWd/t, increasing to 100 GWd/t. Further BN-800 units were planned.

The BN-1200 is being designed by OKBM for operation with MOX fuel from 2020 and dense nitride U-Pu fuel subsequently, in closed fuel cycle. Rosatom plans to submit the BN-1200 to the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) as a Generation IV design. The BN-1200 will produce 2900 MWt (1220 MWe), has a 60-year design life, simplified refuelling, and burn-up of up to 120 GWd/t. The capital cost is expected to be much the same as VVER-1200. Design is expected to be complete in 2014. It is intended to produce electricity at RUR 0.65/kWh (US 2.23 cents/kWh). This is part of a federal Rosatom program, the Proryv (Breakthrough) Project for large fast neutron reactors.

A BN-1800 was briefly under development.

Fast reactors represent a technological advantage for Russia and the BN-800 has been picked up by China. There is also significant export or collaborative potential with Japan. In February 2010 a government decree allocated RUR 5.37 billion funding for sodium-cooled fast reactor development. In late 2012 Rosatom said that it plans to make available its experimental facilities for use as part of the GIF, including specifically large physical test benches at Obninsk’s Institute of Physics and Power Engineering, the BOR-60 research reactor at NIIAR, and the future multifunction research reactor MBIR to be built at the NIIAR site.

Future fast reactors are expected to have an integrated core to minimise the potential for weapons proliferation from bred Pu-239.

The BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor (Bystry Reaktor so Svintsovym Teplonositelem) is another innovation, from NIKIET, with the first unit earlier being proposed for Beloyarsk-5. This will be a new-generation fast reactor which dispenses with the fertile blanket around the core and supersedes the BN-600/800 design, to give enhanced proliferation resistance. In February 2010 a government decree approved RUR 40 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) funding for an initial 300 MWe BREST unit (at SCC Seversk rather than Beloyarsk) over 2016-20. See also Advanced Reactors paper.

The SVBR-100 (Svintsovo-Vismutovyi Bystryi Reaktor – lead-bismuth fast reactor) is a modular lead-bismuth cooled fast neutron reactor designed by OKB Gidropress in Podolsk and the Institute for Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE), so that larger power plants are built incrementally and comprise several 100 MWe modules. The project is being undertaken by AKME-engineering – a 50-50 joint venture of Rosatom and private company En+ Group. The pilot demonstration 101 MWe unit is to be built next to RIAR Dimitrovgrad by 2019. Each 100 MWe fast reactor module with lead-bismuth primary coolant is 4.5 x 8.2 metres, built in factories and delivered to site. The 280 MWt reactor has integral design and forced convection circulation of primary coolant at up to 500°C with two main circulation pumps but passive cooling after shutdown. Fuel is low-enriched (16.5%) uranium or MOX initially, later possibly nitride. Refueling interval is 7-8 years and there is no breeding blanket. Design life is 60 years. It is proposed as a replacement for Novovoronezh 3&4 (in the present reactor halls), and for Kozloduy in Bulgaria. It is described by Gidropress as a multi-function reactor, for power, heat or desalination, to meet regional needs in Russia and abroad. Serial production is envisaged from 2024. Rosatom is seeking additional investors in the project to enable it to proceed. See Small Nuclear Reactors paper.

Another new reactor, also described as a multi-function fast reactor – MBIR – is to be built at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR) at Dimitrovgrad. See R&D section in the Russian Fuel Cycle paper since this is not essentially a power reactor.

Small Floating VVERs

After many years of promoting the idea, in 2006 Rosatom approved construction of a nuclear power plant on a barge (floating power module - FPM) to supply power and heat to isolated coastal towns. See Floating Nuclear Power Plant subsection above.

Two OKBM Afrikantov KLT-40S or KLT-40C reactors derived from those in icebreakers, but with low-enriched fuel (less than 20% U-235), will supply 70 MWe of power plus 586 GJ/hr (5.1 PJ/yr) of heat. They will be mounted on a 21,500 tonne, 144 m long, 30 m wide barge. Refuelling interval is 3-4 years on site, and at the end of a 12-year operating cycle the whole plant is returned to a shipyard (Zvezdochka, near Sevmash has been mentioned) for a 2-year overhaul and storage of used fuel, before being returned to service. Each reactor is 140-150 MWt and can deliver 38.5 MWe if no cogeneration is required.

The smaller ABV reactor units are under development by OKBM Afrikantov, with a range of sizes from 38 MW thermal (ABV-6M ) down to 18 MWt (ABV-3), giving 4-18 MWe outputs. The PWR/VVER units are compact, with integral steam generator. The whole unit of some 200 tonnes (ABV-6) would be factory-produced for ground or barge mounting. A single ABV-6M would require a 3500 tonne barge, the ABV-3: 1600 tonne. The core is similar to that of the KLT-40 except that enrichment is 16.5% and average burnup 95 GWd/t. Refuelling interval is about 8-10 years, and service life about 50 years. In mainly desalination mode the ABV-6M is expected to produce 55,000 m3/day of potable water by reverse osmosis. The company said at the end of 2009 that an ABV-R7D would cost RUR 1.5 billion, but that Rosatom preferred the larger and proven KLT-40 design.

OKBM Afrikantov is developing a new compact icebreaker reactor – RITM-200 – to replace the current KLT 40 reactors. This is an integral 175 MWt, 55 MWe PWR with inherent safety features. (Some sources indicate only 40 MWe.) Two of these, as in the new LK-60 icebreakers, will give 60 MW shaft power via twin turbine generators and three motors. At 65% capacity factor fuel reloading is required after 7 years and major overhaul period is 20 years. Fuel enrichment is almost 20% and the service life 40 years.

For floating nuclear power plants a single RITM-200 could replace twin KLT-40S and require a barge one-third the displacement, though their use in pairs is envisaged*. The reactor mass of the RITM-200 is only 2200 tonnes, compared with 3740 t for the KLT-40C.

* Twin RITM-200 units would use a 17,500 tonne barge 135 m long and 30 m wide.

Exports of combined power and desalination units is planned, with China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Cape Verde and Argentina being mentioned as potential buyers, though Russia would probably retain ownership of the plant with operational responsibility, and simply sell the output. Rosatom has formed a group of expert desalination advisors as part of a strategy to sell its thermal desalination technologies. It is targeting world regions where clean water is scarce as part of its drive for leadership in in the global nuclear market.

VBER-300, VBER-200 to 600

OKBM Afrikantov's VBER-300 PWR is a 325 MWe gross, 295 MWe net, PWR unit developed from naval power plants and was originally envisaged in pairs as a floating nuclear power plant.* As a cogeneration plant it is rated at 200 MWe and 1900 GJ/hr for heat or desalination. The reactor is designed for 60-year life and 90% capacity factor. It was planned to develop it as a land-based unit with Kazatomprom, with a view to exports, and the first unit was to be built at Aktau in Kazakhstan. However, this agreement stalled, and OKBM has been looking for a new partner to develop it. Two demonstration units are proposed at Zheleznogorsk for the Mining & Chemical Combine (MCC), costing some $2 billion. MCC preferred the VBER design to the VK-300.

* Twin VBER-300 units would use a 49,000 tonne barge 170 m long and 62 m wide.

In October 2012 a VBER-500 design was announced by OKBM Afrikantov, with design to be completed in about 2015 in collaboration with NIAEP. In fact OKBM offers 200 to 600 MWe plants “based on the standard 100 MWe module”. They are based on over 6000 reactor-years of experience with naval reactors. The VBERs are not part of any federal program, but the VBER-500 has explicit support from Rosenergoatom, with Kola replacement in view, but the VBER-500 has explicit support from Rosenergoatom, with Kola replacement in view, and the VBER-600 also perhaps as alternative for Baltic plant’s 1200 MWe units.

VK-300 BWR

The VK-300 boiling water reactor is being developed by the Research & Development Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET) for both power (250 MWe) and desalination (150 MWe plus 1675 GJ/hr). It has evolved from the Melekess VK-50 BWR at Dimitrovgrad, but uses standard components wherever possible, eg the reactor vessel of the VVER-1000. A feasibility study on building 4 cogeneration VK-300 units at Archangelsk was favourable, each delivering 250 MWe power and 31.5 TJ/yr heat, but this has not proceeded.


A development of the RBMK light water graphite reactor was the MKER-800, with much improved safety systems and containment, but this too has been shelved. Like the RBMK itself, it was designed by VNIPIET (All-Russia Science Research and Design Institute of Power Engineering Technology) at St Petersburg.


In the 1970-80s OKBM undertook substantial research on high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTRs). In the 1990s it took a lead role in the international GT-MHR (Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor) project based on a General Atomics (US) design. Preliminary design was completed in 2001 and the prototype was to be constructed at Seversk (Tomsk-7, Siberian Chemical Combine) by 2010, with construction of the first 4-module power plant (4x285 MWe) by 2015. Initially it will be used to burn pure ex-weapons plutonium, and replace production reactors which supplied electricity there to 2010. In the longer-term perspective HTRs were seen as important for burning actinides, and later for hydrogen production. The coordinating committee for this GT-MHR project continued meeting to at least 2010, when it discussed plans to 2014, but there has been no further news of this HTR project. OKBM is now in charge of Russian HTR collaboration with China.


From 2001 Russia has been a lead country in the IAEA Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO). In 2006 Russia joined the Generation-IV International Forum, for which NEA provides the secretariat. Russia Russia is also a member of the NEA's Multinational Design Evaluation Program which is increasingly important in rationalising reactor design criteria.

Improving reactor performance through fuel development

A major recent emphasis has been the improvement in operation of present reactors with better fuels and greater efficiency in their use, closing much of the gap between Western and Russian performance. Fuel developments include the use of burnable poisons – gadolinium and erbium, as well as structural changes to the fuel assemblies.

With uranium-gadolinium fuel and structural changes, VVER-1000 fuel has been pushed out to 4-year endurance, and VVER-440 fuel even longer. For VVER-1000, five years is envisaged from 2010, with enrichment levels increasing nearly by one third (from 3.77% to 4.87%) in that time, average burn-up going up by 40% (to 57.7 GWd/t) and operating costs dropping by 5%. With a 3 x 18 month operating cycle, burn-up would be lower (51.3 GWd/t) but load factor could increase to 87%. Comparable improvements were envisaged for later-model VVER-440 units.

For RBMK reactors the most important development has been the introduction of uranium-erbium fuel at all units, though structural changes have helped. As enrichment and erbium content are increased (eg from 2.4 or 2.6% to 2.8% average enrichment and 0.6% erbium), increased burn-up is possible and the fuel can stay in the reactor six years. Also from 2009 the enrichment is profiled along the fuel elements, with 3.2% in the central section and 2.5% in the upper and lower parts. This better utilises uranium resources and further extends fuel life in the core.

For the BN-600 fast reactor, improved fuel means up to 560 days between refuelling.

Beyond these initiatives, the basic requirements for fuel have been set as: fuel operational lifetime extended to 6 years, improved burn-up of 70 GWd/tU, and improved fuel reliability. In addition, many nuclear plants will need to be used in load-following mode, and fuel which performs well under variable load conditions will be required.

All RBMK reactors now use recycled uranium from VVER-440 reactors and some has also been used experimentally at Kalinin-2 and Kola-2 VVERs. It is intended to extend this. A related project has been to utilise surplus weapons-grade plutonium in MOX fuel for up to seven VVER-1000 reactors from 2008, for one fast reactor (Beloyarsk-3) from 2007, and then Beloyarsk-4 from its start-up. In 2012 Rosenergoatom said it planned to use MOX in new-generation VVER-TOI reactors, subject to evaluation which should be complete in 2016.

Export of nuclear reactors

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for promoting Russian nuclear technologies abroad, including building up a system of Rosatom foreign representatives in Russian embassies. This is backed up by provision of substantial competitive finance for nuclear construction in client countries, as well as readiness to take equity or even build-own-operate (BOO) as in Turkey.

Atomstroyexport (ASE) has had three reactor construction projects abroad, all involving VVER-1000 units. First, it took over building a reactor for Iran at the Bushehr power plant, a project commenced by Siemens KWU but then aborted. That plant is now operating. Then it sold two large new AES-91 power plants to China for Jiangsu Tianwan at Lianyungang (both now operating) and two AES-92 units to India for Kudankulam (under construction, start-up of first one in July 2013). It is likely that ASE will build a second unit at Bushehr and agreements have been signed for two more at Tianwan in China. The first two of these are under construction. In 2007 a memorandum of understanding was signed to build four VVER units at Kudankulam (reaffirmed since).

Export sales and prospects for Russian nuclear power plants (post-Soviet)

Country Plant Type Est. cost Status, financing
Ukraine Khmelnitski 2 & Rovno 4 2 x V-320 reactors, 1000 MWe   operating
Iran Bushehr 1 V-446 reactor, 1000 MWe   operating
China Tianwan 1&2 2 x AES-91   operating
India Kudankulam 1&2 2 x AES-92 $3 billion Built, unit 1 operation 2013, unit 2 pending
China Tianwan 3&4 2 x AES-91 $4 billion Under construction from Dec 2012
Belarus Ostrovets 1&2 2 x AES-2006 $10 billion Loan organised for 90%, construction start 2013
India Kudankulam 3&4 2 x AES-92 $5.8 million Confirmed, loan organised for 85%, construction start 2014?
Bangladesh Rooppur 1&2 2 x AES-92 $4 billion Confirmed, loan organised for 90%, construction start 2015
Turkey Akkuyu 1-4 4 x AES-2006 $25 billion Confirmed, BOO, construction start 2016
Vietnam Ninh Thuan 1, 1&2 2 x AES-91 $9 billion Confirmed, loan organised for 85%, construction start 2017 or later
Finland Hanhikivi 1 1 x AES-2006 EUR 6 billion Contracted, Rosatom 34% equity, construction start 2018?
Iran Bushehr 2&3 2 x VVER   Construction contract Nov 2014, NIAEP-ASE, barter for oil or pay cash
Armenia Metsamor 3 1 x AES-92 $5 billion Planned, loan for 50%
China Tianwan 7&8 2 x AES2006   Planned
Vietnam Ninh Thuan 1, 3&4 2 x AES-91   Planned
Hungary Paks 5&6 2 x AES2006 EUR 12.5 billion Planned, loan organised for 80%
Slovakia Bohunice V3 1 x AES2006   Planned, possible 51% Rosatom equity
Jordan Al Amra 2 x AES-92 $10 billion Planned, BOO, finance organised for 49.9%
India Kudankulam 5&6 2 x AES-92?   Planned
Bulgaria Belene/ Kozloduy 7 2 x AES-92   cancelled, but may be revived
Ukraine Khmelnitski completion of 2 x V-392 reactors $4.9 million Due to commence construction 2015, 85% financed by loan
South Africa Thyspunt up to 8 x AES-2006   Broad agreement signed, no specifics, Russia offers finance, prefers BOO
Algeria ? ?   Agreement signed, no specifics

AES-91 & AES-92 have 1000 MWe class reactors, AES-2006 have 1200 MWe class reactors.

The above Table gives an overview of Rosatom’s export projects for nuclear power plants. It is focused on 1000 and 1200 MWe-class VVER reactors, the former being well-proven and the latter a very credible design soon to be operating in Russia. In virtually all cases, the technology is backed by very competitive finance. Rosatom expects its order book to reach $100 billion by the end of 2014, up 25% in 12 months.

Russia's policy for building nuclear power plants in non-nuclear weapons states is to deliver on a turnkey basis, including supply of all fuel and repatriation of used fuel for the life of the plant. The fuel is to be reprocessed in Russia and the separated wastes returned to the client country eventually. Evidently India is being treated as a weapons state, since Russia will supply all the enriched fuel for Kudankulam, but India will reprocess it and keep the plutonium.

Rusatom Overseas expects two export Russian reactors constructed on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis to be operating soon after 2020 and 24 by 2030. Only two of the projects listed below are BOO at this stage.

China: When China called for competitive bids for four large third-generation reactors to be built at Sanmen and Yangjiang, ASE unsuccessfully bid the AES-92 power plant for these. However Tianwan 3&4 are now under construction, with further units there planned.

India: Beyond Kudankulam 3&4, in 2009 plans to build four more VVER units (probably AES-2006) were confirmed for Haripur in West Bengal.

Belarus: Ostrovets NPP will be a 2400 MWe AES-2006 plant developed by SPb AEP (merged with VNIPIET to become Atomproekt) based on AES-91 design. Atomstroyexport, now NIAEP-ASE, will the principal construction contractor. Russia is lending up to $10 billion for 25 years to finance 90% of the contract.

Bangladesh: The Rooppur nuclear power plant of two AES-92 reactors is to be built by Atomstroyexport (now NIAEP-ASE) for the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. Russia is providing $500 million then $1.5 billion to cover 90% of the first unit’s construction.

Turkey: In 2010 Russian and Turkish heads of state signed and then ratified an intergovernmental agreement for Rosatom to build, own and operate the Akkuyu plant of four AES-2006 units as a US$ 20 billion project. This will be its first foreign plant on that BOO basis. Construction is due to start in 2016.

Vietnam: The Ninh Thuan 1 nuclear power plant will have two VVER-1000 reactors in its first stage built by NN AEP-Atomstroyexport. Russia's Ministry of Finance will finance at least 85% of the $9 billion for this first plant. A second agreement for $500 million loan covers the establishment of a nuclear science and technology centre.

Finland: In mid-2013 Fennovoima signed a project development agreement for the Hanhikivi nuclear power plant with Rusatom Overseas, which will also take at least a 34% share of the project.

Hungary: In January 2014 an agreement was signed for two reactors, apparently AES-2006, with low-interest finance to cover 80% of the cost.

Jordan: In October 2013 ASE agreed to build two AES-92 nuclear units, while Rusatom Overseas would be strategic partner and operator of the plant, hence BOO basis. Russia will contribute at least 49% of the project's $10 billion cost.

Bulgaria accepted Rosatom’s bid for two AES-92 units for Belene in October 2006. ASE leads a consortium including Areva NP and Bulgarian enterprises in the EUR 4.0 billion project, which now is unlikely to proceed.

Ukraine: ASE is contracted to complete building Khmelnitsky 3&4, where construction started in the 1980s and ceased in 1990. A Russian loan will provide 85% of the finance.

Czech Republic: A Škoda JS/Atomstroyexport/OKB Gidropress consortium is proposing to build two AES-2006/MIR-1200 units, but a decision between this consortium and a Westinghouse-led one will not be made until about mid-2015. Financing will be a significant consideration.

Kazakhstan: Despite disagreements over 2009-10, ASE is likely to build the first of a series of small reactors (probably VBER-300) in Kazakhstan.

South Africa: A broad agreement with offer of finance has been signed, but the country is open to other offers as well, for 9600 MWe capacity required.

Considerable export potential for floating nuclear power plants (FNPP), on a fully-serviced basis, has been identified. Indonesia is one possible market.

Since 2006 Rosatom has actively pursued cooperation deals in South Africa, Namibia, Chile and Morocco as well as with Egypt, Algeria, and Kuwait.

In February 2008 ASE formed an alliance with TechnoPromExport (TPE), an exporter of all other large-scale power generation types. This will rationalize their international marketing. TPE boasts of having completed 400 power projects in 50 countries around the world totalling some 87 GWe.

For other fuel cycle exports see companion paper: Russia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

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