Most reactors are being licensed for lifetime extension. Half of Russia's nuclear generation in 2015 came from units which had been upgraded for long-term operation and were operating beyond their initial design lifetimes (around 30 years), mostly with 15-year extensions initially. Twenty four of 34 reactors operating in 2015 had been upgraded with lifetime extension, adding 3 GWe of generating capacity. Of the other ten, five were being upgraded and five were relatively new anyway.
Generally, Russian reactors were originally licensed for 30 years from first power. Since 2000, licence extensions have been issued for 29 units totalling 21GWe: Beloyarsk 3, Novovoronezh 3-5, Kola 1-4, Kalinin 1&2, Balakovo 1-3 Rostov 1, Kursk 1-4, Leningrad 1-4, Smolensk 1-3, and Bilibino 1-4. Novovoronezh 4, Kola 1&2, Rostov 1 and Bilibino 2-4 have have been granted second licence extensions.
Balakovo: Rostechnadzor approved a 4% increase in power from all four Balakovo V-320 reactors and major overhauls were undertaken from 2012. Balakovo 1 was upgraded at a cost of RUR 9 billion over nine years, and in December 2015 Rostechnadzor gave it a 30-year operating lifetime extension, the first Russian unit to achieve this. Rosatom has done the same for the other three units, all of which are uprated to 104% with 18-month refuel cycle. However, some may be still in trial operation and not yet licensed at this level. Balakovo 4 will be the first VVER-1000 unit uprated to 107%, using advanced TVS-2M fuel design. All four Balakovo units are set for a 60-year operating lifetime. Three test assemblies of REMIX fuel were loaded into Balakovo 3 in June 2016. In September 2021 TVEL announced that the trial of the REMIX fuel over five years had been successful. The assemblies will be examined in more detail in about 2023 once cooled and less radioactive.
Beloyarsk: Beloyarsk 3 BN-600 fast neutron reactor in Zarechny municipality of Sverdlovsk region was upgraded for a 15-year operating lifetime extension, to 2025, and is now licensed to 2030 with ongoing upgrading work aimed at taking it to 2040. In 30 years of operation to late 2011, it produced 114 TWh with capacity factor of 76%. Due to progressive modification, its fuel burn-up has increased from 7% (design value) to 11.4%. It provides heat for Zarechny town as well as electricity from three 200 MWe turbine generators.
Kola: Safety analyses for Kola 3&4, which are later-model VVER-440 reactors, have allowed for at least 15-year life extension from 2011 and 2014 respectively, and significant upratings, despite low power demand in the Murmansk region and Karelia which means they are not fully utilised. In 2010, intended life extension was announced for Kola 3 (15 years). Kola 4 has been uprated to 107% using improved fuel assemblies on a six-year cycle and run on pilot basis but is not yet fully licensed at this level. In October 2014 Rostechnadzor granted a 25-year licence extension for unit 4, taking it to 2029. In May 2016 unit 3 was being prepared for operation at 107%.
A plan for refurbishment, upgrade and life extension of Novovoronezh 5 was announced in mid-2009, this being a prototype of the second-generation VVER-1000 design. The initial estimate was RUR 1.66 billion ($52 million) but this eventually became RUR 14 billion ($450 million). The 12 months of work from September 2010 included the total replacement of the reactor control system and 80% of electrical equipment, and fitting upgraded safety systems, in particular, those of emergency core cooling and feedwater, and emergency power supply. Rosatom projects its operating lifetime being extended to 2035. In 2011 it gained a five-year licence extension, and in 2015 it was licensed for a further 10 years, to 2025.
Smolensk: Early in 2012 Rosatom announced a RUR 45 billion ($1.5 billion) programme to upgrade and extend the operating lifetime of Smolensk 1-3 RBMK units. At the same time, construction of Smolensk II would get underway, with the first VVER unit to come online by 2024 (now 2027). In 2012 Smolensk 1 was licensed to December 2022, a ten-year extension after refurbishment. Upgrading unit 2 was undertaken from 2013, and included replacement of fuel channels and upgrading the reactor control and protection system and radiation monitoring system, as well as reinforcing the building structure. Unit 3 upgrade was implemented to March 2019, though it was already operating above 1000 MWe gross. All three Smolensk units are set for a 45-year operating lifetime. Rostechnadzor issued a 15-year licence extension for unit 3 in December 2019, with units 1&2 having already achieved the same.
The sodium-cooled BN-series fast reactor plans are part of Rosatom's Proryv, or 'Breakthrough', project to develop fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle whose mixed oxide (MOX) fuel will be reprocessed and recycled. The BN-600 reactor at Beloyarsk has operated successfully since 1980 and is now licensed to 2020, with planned operation to 2025. The BN-800 reactor at Beloyarsk has operated since 2014, essentially as a demonstration unit for fuel and design features for the BN-1200, which is now deferred.
In January 2013 Rosatom called for bids to build two more of these universal icebreaker vessels, for delivery in 2019 and 2020, and in May 2014 a contract for RUR 84.4 billion ($2.4 billion) was signed with USC, the vessels to be built at the same Baltic shipyard. In August 2013 Rostechnadzor licensed the shipyard to install the RITM-200 reactor units from OKBM Afrikantov for the pilot model. The keel of Arktika was laid in November 2013, and that of Sibir in May 2015, and of Ural in July 2016. Arktika was launched in June 2016 and Sibr in September 2017. Rosatomflot expects to have Arktika commissioned in 2019 at a cost of RUR 37 billion.
For land-based plants the State Specialized Design Institute (SSDI or GSPI) finalized the design of a single-unit RITM-200N plant in September 2018. This has 190 MWt power (55 MWe), a fuel cycle of 5 or 6 years and a service lifetime of 60 years. Reactor containment dimensions are 6 x 6 x 15.5 m. Rosatom signed an electricity supply agreement in 2020 and then a development agreement in September 2021 with the government of Sakha (Yakutia) for the first land-based small modular reactor at Ust-Kuyga. Rostechnadzor licensed this RITM-200N in August 2021. A site licence is expected to be issued in 2023, with construction from 2024 and operation in 2028. It will replace coal and diesel capacity in the Ust-Yansky district and also supply the Kyuchus gold mine project in the Verkoyansky district. It is expected to halve the local cost of electricity.
The BN-600 fast neutron reactor operating since 1980 has been upgraded for a 15-year operating lifetime extension, to 2025, and is licensed to 2020. It is a three-loop pool type reactor of 1470 MWt, 600 MWe gross and 560 MWe net. Due to progressive modification, its fuel burn-up has increased from 7% (design value) to 11.4%. It provides heat for Zarechny town as well as electricity from three 200 MWe turbine generators. 2b1af7f3a8