The 2.5GW Kursk II nuclear power plant (NPP) will replace the existing Kursk NPP in western Russia. Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary of Rosatom, is developing the project at an estimated cost of RUR225bn ($3.5bn approximately).

The two power units of the new NPP are planned to be commissioned at the same time as the decommissioning of the first two power units of the Kursk NPP, which is the biggest source of electricity in the Central Russian Chernozem.

The Kursk NPP is being operated with four Reaktor Bolshoy Moshchnosti Kanalnyy (RBMK) reactors with a capacity of 1GW each.

In 2015, Rosenergoatom proposed to decommission nine nuclear units in Russia by 2023, including one RBMK at Kursk NPP. The second RBMK unit is due to retire by 2027, while the third and fourth units are scheduled to close in 2029 and 2031 respectively.

Rostechnadzor, the supervisory body of the Government of Russia on ecological, technological and nuclear issues, granted construction licence for the first unit in June 2016 and for the second unit in October 2016.

First concrete for the NPP was poured in April 2018, marking the start of construction of the nuclear island building foundations. The first power unit of the NPP is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2022, while the second unit is scheduled to come online in 2023.

Kursk II nuclear power plant make-up

The Kursk II nuclear power plant will feature two 1.2GW VVER-TOI (Water-Water Energy Reactor Universal Optimised Digital-Typical Optimised, with enhanced Information) design nuclear reactors.

The new VVER-TOI project, also designated as V-510, was designed by the ASE Group of Companies and the engineering division of ROSATOM as an improvement of the existing VVER-1200 reactor design.

“The Kursk NPP is being operated with four Reaktor Bolshoy Moshchnosti Kanalnyy (RBMK) reactors with a capacity of 1GW each.”

The two 3+ generation reactors of Kursk NPP II will be the pilot units of the VVER-TOI project and include a turbine plant featuring a low-speed turbine-generator, manufactured by Power Machines PJSC. The new design will increase the reactor capacity by an additional 25%, when compared to the conventional VVER-1000 reactors.

A PS330/10kV substation will provide electric energy for the construction works and to the site’s facilities. The new substation will be connected from 330kV operating outdoor switchgear (OSG) to 330kV overhead power line (OPL).

VVER-TOI reactor design

The new VVER-TOI design doubles the service life of reactor equipment from 30 to 60 years, with a possibility of extending to 80 years.

Offering low construction and operating costs, the new reactor design features an upgraded pressure vessel, improved core design to increase cooling reliability, and advanced passive safety system.

The reactor vessel’s core will have a bigger shell compared to the conventional VVER. Advanced welding materials will be used while designing the reactor, which will also help in optimising the design of the steam generators.

The new power units comply with the modern requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the field of safety. The nits will feature up-to-date safety systems such as a reactor core melt trap, and heat removal passive system, which allows the reactor core to cool down in the absence of the power supply by using natural air circulation.

Kursk II construction

An estimated 1.2 million cubic metres of soil was excavated in 2017 as part of the construction work on the two new units. More than 800,000m³ of sand and gravel mixture was laid at the base of the NPP II buildings and structures.

Formation of the sand and gravel coating of unit one was completed in October 2017, while the first concrete layer (concrete bedding) under the foundation plate was assembled in November 2017.

The first 16t reinforced concrete block was installed on the rebar of the lower foundation belt in December 2017. The foundation will comprise 105 reinforced concrete blocks with a total weight of 1,600t.

More than 16,000m³ of self-compacting concrete mix is proposed to be laid in the foundation slab of the reactor building, while the works are expected to be completed by June 2018.

The NPP construction works also included the engineering networks – steam pipelines, hot water supply pipelines for the construction base, and heating networks.

Five 40t GIRAFFE TDK-40.1100 pillar cranes will be used for constructing the internal and boundary walls of the reactor unit of the first power unit of Kursk II. DEMAG CC 6800, a heavy-duty crane, will also be used for constructing the building structures at the reactor buildings.

Contractors involved

ASE Group of Companies (the engineering division of Rosatom) is the general contractor and designer of the project, while Trest Rosspetsenergomontazh was awarded the subcontract for the plant construction.

AEM Technology, a subsidiary of Rosatom, was awarded the contract for manufacturing the bottom of the reactor vessel for unit one of Kursk II. Atomenergomash is supplying the nuclear steam generating plant equipment.

Energoteks JSC (Kurchatov, Kursk Oblast) manufactured the melt traps or melt localisation devices (MLD) for the project, while Nyazepetrovsk Casting and Mechanical Plant manufactured GIRAFFE TDK-40.1100 pillar cranes for use in the NPP construction.

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