Belarus Starts Constructing Its First Nuclear Power Plant

Construction of Belarus' first NPP started at the Ostrovets site on 6 November 2013. (Photo: Directorate for NPP Construction, Belarus)

Belarus is the first nuclear "newcomer" country in Europe, and the second country after the United Arab Emirates, to start the construction of its first nuclear power plant (NPP) in three decades.

The state enterprise Directorate for Nuclear Power Plant Construction under the Ministry of Energy, which is responsible for the implementation of the project, and which will also be the future operator, announced yesterday that the first nuclear safety-related concrete for the Ostrovets NPP Unit 1 was poured on 6 November 2013.

A construction licence for the NPP in the northwest of the country was granted by Gozatomnazor, the regulatory body in the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus. The construction of the first nuclear power plant was authorized by a Presidential Decree on 2 November 2013.

The first of two 1 170 megawatt-electric (MWe) units of the Russian VVER type (AES-2006) technology is scheduled to be in operation by 2018. The second unit is planned to be operational by 2020. The light water reactors are supplied by Atomstroyexport of the Russian Federation. The contract between Belarus and the Russian Federation includes fuel supply, take-back of spent fuel, training and other services. The project will be implemented on a "turnkey" basis.

Belarus started its nuclear power programme to meet an increasing demand for electricity. The country utilized IAEA services to help prepare its national nuclear programme: an Energy Planning Analysis was done from 2007 to 2010 under a Technical Cooperation project, and a Nuclear Energy System Assessment was conducted from 2009 to 2011. A report of the latter was recently published by the IAEA (IAEA-TECDOC 1716) as a valuable reference case for other countries.

In June 2012, the IAEA carried out an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR) to review the status of Belarus' nuclear power programme. Making several recommendations and suggestions to national authorities, the INIR mission team concluded that the country was making progress towards establishing the infrastructure needed to support the construction of a nuclear power plant. The results of the Belarus INIR mission are published on the IAEA website.

Other embarking countries have also benefited from IAEA assistance and INIR missions, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Poland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

Currently Turkey is hosting an INIR mission from 4 to 14 November 2013.

The INIR is an international peer review of the comprehensive integrated infrastructure needed to introduce a national nuclear programme. The mission reviews the 19 issues of Phase 1 and Phase 2 identified in the Agency's publication Milestones in the Introduction of a National Nuclear Power Programme (NE Series NG-T-3.1).

Last update: 1 November 2014