Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant

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Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant
Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is located in Armenia
Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant
Location of Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia
Country Armenia
Coordinates 40°10′51.04″N 44°8′56.07″E / 40.1808444°N 44.1489083°E / 40.1808444; 44.1489083Coordinates: 40°10′51.04″N 44°8′56.07″E / 40.1808444°N 44.1489083°E / 40.1808444; 44.1489083
Construction began 1969
Commission date December 22, 1976
Operator(s) Haykakan Atomayin Electrakayan CJSC
Power generation
Units operational 1 x 408 MW
Units decommissioned 1 x 408 MW
Thermal capacity 1,375 MWt
Annual output 2,265 GW·h

The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) (Armenian: Հայկական ատոմային էլեկտրակայան), commonly known as the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant, (Armenian: Մեծամորի ատոմային էլեկտրակայան) is the only nuclear power plant in the South Caucasus, which is located only 36 kilometers west of Yerevan, where Metsamor lies; an improper land for agricultural purposes. In common with other early VVER-440 plants but unlike Western LWRs, the ANPP lacks a containment building, which is usually a reinforced concrete or steel structure enclosing a nuclear reactor. The plant supplied approximately 40 percent of Armenia's electricity in 2015.[1]


The ANPP complex consists of two units. The first one was set in motion on December 22 of 1976, and the second one was launched on January 5, 1980. ANPP is CJSC HAEK(Closed Joint Stock Company Armenian Atomic Power Plant), according to the ratification of the Republic of Armenia on usage of nuclear energy, executes the tasks of the Armenian NPP operator. The principal goal of this company is safe and cost-efficient energy generation.[2] The plant contains two VVER-440 Model V270 nuclear reactors. The NPP lies close to earthquake-prone locality, the seismic stability of which is 8-magnitude. Due to that reason the NPP was constructed to persist up to a 9-magnitude earthquake. The total power of ANPP was 815 MW, each unit has 407.5 MW power.[3] After the earthquake in 1989 USSR Ministers Council decided that the existing two units of the NPP must shut down. After the fall of USSR, Armenia had serious problems with scarcity of energy, because of which Armenian Government decided to relaunch the second unit. Before this event, Armenian Government invited many leading international companies to discuss and recommend solution for the emerged situation. Long discussions took place with these companies and an operation was developed. Finally, after five to six years of being shuttered, the Unit Two reactor was restarted on November 5, 1995, which resulted in radical changes in the Armenian power supply schedule, which could then provide power day and night.[2]

Process Flow of the Armenian NPP Units[edit]

The process flow consists of few circuits each one performing its individual role. The primary circuit, that is a separate system from the secondary one, is radioactive and includes a reactor and 6 identical cooling loops. These 6 loops consist of 1 reactor, pump, 2 loop isolation valves and steam generator. There is also a pressurizer in the primary circuit, that is connected to one of these loops. The pressurizer helps to avoid the fluctuations in a pressure of water that cools the reactor and acts as a neutron moderator. The secondary circuit, as mentioned above is not radioactive. The composition of the secondary circuit is as follows: steam generators, steam turbines and pumps. These two circuits have the steam generator as a common component. Heat exchanging tubes transfer generated heat energy to the second circuit. Finally, when the steam lines transfer saturated steam to the turbine, it rotates the generator, which in its turn generates electric current. The third circuit, containing cooling towers, is a cooling system. It condenses the steam generated in a steam generator.

Primary Circuit[edit]

Main technical features of the Armenian NPP Units[edit]

  • Number of Units: 2
  • Electric power: 440
  • MW Heat power: 1375MW


  • Model: V-270
  • Reactor type: VVER-440
  • VVER-440 was a widely exported series being operated in Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria
  • Moderator and coolant: water
  • Fuel: Uranium Oxide from low-enriched uraniun
  • Number of turbine generators per Unit: 2
  • Capacity of turbine generator: 220MW
  • Number of circulation loops: 6 (Reactor coolant pumps, steam generators)

Main Technical and Economical Performance Indicators[edit]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Power generation (bln. KWh) 1,997 2,402 2,716 2,640 2,553
Capacity factor (%) 60,80 72,94 82,69 80,37 77,73
Availability factor (%) 83,09 76,87 84,24 84,60 80,97

Recent unit 2 developments[edit]

Hakob Sanasaryan, an Armenian chemist and environmentalist campaigner and head of the Green Union of Armenia, claimed in 2003 that the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant did not meet internationally accepted nuclear safety standards, due to the lack of a containment vessel.[4]

The E.U. reportedly had classified the VVER 440 Model V230 light water-cooled reactors as the "oldest and least reliable" category of all the 66 Soviet reactors built in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.[5] However the IAEA has found that the Metsamor NPP has adequate safety and can function beyond its design lifespan.[6]

In December 2008, the Armenian government's progress in meeting international safety standards regarding its use of nuclear energy at the Metsamor NPP were praised by Council on Nuclear Energy Safety Chairman Adolf Birkhofer who also praised the overall development of the energy system in the country.[7]

In the wake of Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, the combination of design and location of Metsamor was again claimed to make it among the most dangerous nuclear plants in the world. The Metsamor power station is one of the few remaining nuclear reactors of its kind that were built without primary containment structures. However, the IAEA has found that the plant has adequate safety and can function beyond its design lifespan. Armenian authorities and nuclear experts have also dismissed the possibility of a repeat of Fukushima, citing numerous safety upgrades the plant has received since one of its reactors was restored into operation in 1995.[6][8]

In October 2015 a life extension of unit 2 was agreed, to take place in 2017 and 2018, permitting it to operate until 2027. The work will include modernization of turbine hall equipment enabling unit 2's power output to increase by 15-18%.[9]

Discussions on possible third unit[edit]

On April 23, 2007 the director of Russia's Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko, met with Armenia's Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan and Ecology Minister, Vardan Ayvazyan, where the Russian side indicated Moscow's willingness to help Armenia build a new nuclear power plant, in the event that Armenian officials opted to head in that direction. This statement was followed by former President Robert Kocharyan's speech given to Yerevan State University students on April 27, 2007 during which he said that serious work on the fate of Armenia's atomic energy is underway and practical steps will be taken in this direction in 2008–2009. The president considered it desirable to construct a new nuclear power plant based on the existing infrastructures and new technologies. However, in his words, it is necessary to determine the amount needed and examine what impact it will have on rates. Robert Kocharyan said that in 2012–2013, active work will be carried out to build a new nuclear power plant and modernize the current one.

Armen Movsisyan has also announced that a decision to build a new unit at the operating nuclear power plant to replace the one to be decommissioned has been taken. The new unit would support 1,000 MW, which would "not only meet the needs of Armenia and reduce the country's dependence on organic energy [gas, oil, etc.] considerably, but will also have certain energy importance in the region."[10] The development of a feasibility study for building a new reactor at the Metsamor nuclear power plant is underway with the assistance of foreign specialists. This work is expected to be completed within 1–2 years. Another proposed idea would be to have the unit support 1,200 MW.[11] The cost of the project will go upwards from $4 billion to 5.2-7.2 billion depending on the power of the plant. Armenian Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Areg Galstyan said that the construction of the new nuclear power plant may start in 2011. The new NPP is expected to be commissioned in 2017.[11] The United States has backed plans for a new Armenian Nuclear Plant and has pledged to help the Armenian government conduct feasibility studies needed for the implementation of the multimillion-dollar project.[12] On November 29, 2007 the Armenian government approved a plan to shut down the nuclear power plant, but gave no specific date. According to Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan, the shutdown could cost up to $280 million.

In February 2009, the government announced a tender for a new 1000 MWe unit. In May 2009, Australian company Worley Parsons was chosen to administer the project, and a $460 million management contract was signed in June. Legislation providing for construction of up to 1200 MWe of new nuclear capacity at Metsamor from one or more reactors was passed in June 2009. In December 2009, the government approved establishment of JV Metzamorenergoatom, a 50-50 Russian-Armenian joint stock company set up by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources with Atomstroyexport, with shares offered to other investors. This will build a 1060 MWe AES-92 unit (with a VVER-1000 model V-392 reactor) with a service life of 60 years at Metsamor. In March 2010 an agreement was signed with Rosatom to provide the V-392 reactor equipment for it. In August 2010, an intergovernmental agreement was signed to provide that the Russian party will build at least one VVER-1000 reactor, supply nuclear fuel for it and decommission it. Construction was to commence in 2012 or early 2013 and is expected to cost US$5 billion. The customer and owner of new reactors, as well as electricity generated, will be Metzamorenergoatom, and Atomstroyexport will be the principal contractor. Armenia undertakes to buy all electricity produced at commercial rates, enabling investors' return on capital, for 20 years. Metzamorenergoatom is to fund not less than 40% of the construction, and early in 2012 Russia agreed to finance 50%. The latest date for commissioning is 2019-20.[13]

As of 2015, construction of a new nuclear unit is still being considered, though plans were delayed due to the Fukushima crisis. A medium power design of about 600 MWe is now the preferred option.[9]


Cooling towers of Metsamor
Unit[14] Type Net El. Output (MW) Gross El. Output (MW) Start of project First criticality Shut down
Armenia-1 VVER-440 Model V270 376 MW 408 MW 01.07.1969 22.12.1976 25.02.1989
Armenia-2 VVER-440 Model V270 376 MW 408 MW 01.07.1975 05.01.1980

Operating and planned nuclear power in Armenia[edit]

Reactor Type Net Capacity Status First Power Planned Close
Armenia 2 VVER-440 376 MWe Operating 1980 2026
Armenia 3 VVER-1000 1060 MWe Planned Expected 2026
Total operating (1) 376MWe

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contributed to the developments and improvements of the plant. Russian government agreed to contribute to the renovation of the plant, which was aimed to extend the lifespan of the NPP by 10 years. Finally, in May 2014, Russia invested 300 million dollars into the project. Due to technical reasons, the plant will be shut down for approximately six months in 2017, to undertake upgrading works. The power of the turbine is expected to increase to 435-440 MWe net. To accomplish the project, some more 40 million dollar debt was incurred.[15]

ANPP and Environment[edit]

As the Metsamor Plant is neighboring Turkey, 16 km far from borders, its environmental issues are of great significance for Turkey as well. Moreover, European Union is also concerned with this issue. Previously, there were various proposals to shut down the plant, but as it is of great importance for Armenia, the Armenian government decided that it will continue operating until a new one is built.[15] Radiation is a key problem for both personnel and the environment around the NPP. However, the design solutions ensure safety of the Armenian NPP. As far as radioactive releases from NPP are concerned, the barrier system and the application of ALARA principles enable the conservation of sanitary terms, which is irreplaceable from the environmental point of view. The fact is that the actual amount of releases to the environment is hundred times less than it is allowed. The system is also equipped with the ventilation stack that enables the gaseous waste to be removed into the atmosphere. The ventilation system treats this waste with special filters, and the monitoring of the amount of wastage is being done. The key priorities of the Armenian NPP are as follows: Human health protection, maintaining favorable conditions for population, overall satisfaction of the interests of the society as a whole, ecological and economic interests, rational usage of natural resources, working in accordance with nature protection legislation, openness, cooperation with international companies and organizations.[2]

See also[edit]