The final contract has been signed for Russian firms to build a nuclear power plant in Belarus, the country’s first. Ostrovets 1 should begin electricity production in 2018.
The documents were signed Wednesday in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, by the country’s first deputy prime minister, Vladimir Semashko, and a Russian consortium led by Rosatom’s first deputy director general Alexander Lokshin. Among the terms agreed were each party’s obligations with respect to the project’s costs, schedule and organisation, said Rosatom, adding that the contract also specified operation of Ostrovets unit 1 in November 2018 and unit 2 in July 2020.
A price tag of $10 billion was put on the turnkey project to build two Gidropress-designed NPP-2006 model VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors and all associated power plant infrastructure. “Funding is already open for the project, the first funds received by our company and we are moving into a phase of active construction,” said Yuri Pustolev, deputy director of NIAEP, the AtomStroyExport project company that will manage the work. The official start of construction and pouring of first concrete has previously been slated for late next year.
Rosatom described the NPP-2006 as a ‘reference’ design due to its previous deployment in China at Tianwan and current construction in Russia at Novovoronezh Phase II, Leningrad Phase II as well as in Kaliningrad at the Baltic site.
Rosatom claimed that about half of the project value would be spent with local companies, and that the plant would result in 1000 skilled jobs. In turn, Belarus and Russia could expect each of those to lead to a further 10-15 jobs across their economies, said the Russian state firm.
The Ostrovets units will produce 2400 MWe in total and make a very significant addition to Belarus’ current power system, which currently counts only about 8000 MWe in generation although about 1500 MWe of other improvements are also planned. Ostrovets is one of a cluster of new nuclear projects in the region meant to meet growing demand and help to fill a supply gap left by the closure of Lithuania’s Ignalina nuclear power plant in 2009. Lithuania itself is contracting Hitachi-GE to build at Visaginas (adjacent to Ignalina), while Russia is using its Kaliningrad territory between Lithuania and Poland to build a twin-reactor plant primarily for the export of electricity. Also nearby, Poland is advancing plans to build its first nuclear power plant by 2025.