On Monday, Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a decree on the timing of commissioning two power units of the Astravets nuclear power plant (BelNPP).
The NPP got started in November, but it was expected that the commercial use of the first power unit would take place in early 2021. According to the document, the first power unit is scheduled to be commissioned in 2021, the second – in H1 2022.
On November 7, Alyaksandr Lukashenka officially opened the facility. However, the day after his visit, the equipment at the BelNPP failed. During the tests at the first unit, ‘the need to replace some electrical measuring equipment’ was revealed, the Energy Ministry said. At the same time, according to the ministry, all technological systems kept ‘operating in the regular mode’.
The Astravets NPP with two reactors of total capacity of 2,400 MW was built by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) using a Russian loan, to be run on its own uranium fuel. Signed in 2011, the agreement provides the Belarusian government with up to $10 bn in state export loans for the construction of the nuclear power plant.
The launch of the plant was postponed from 2018. The project is being brought to an end despite the protest of the public, a number of environmental organisations, some international organisations and Lithuania, whose border is several tens of kilometres from the reactors. The Lithuanian parliament even declared the station a ‘threat to national security’. In response to the production of the first kilowatt-hours in Astravets, Lithuania stopped trading in electricity with Belarus.
In mid November, Rosatom official expressed readiness to build one more nuclear power plant in Belarus.