Armenia announced a refurbishment project for its one commercial nuclear reactor, which the deputy minister of Energy, Infrastructures and Natural Resources Hayk Harutyunyan said would increase the power of the reactor by 10 percent.
According to the minister, the major investment in the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is geared towards safety measures. However, the work will also include replacement of turbo generators and other equipment that will boost capacity by 40-50 MW, the Arka News Agency reported.
Plans to refurbish the reactor have been underway since 2014, when it became clear that delays were interfering with plans for a new reactor that would have twice the capacity of the current one.
The minister also said that Armenia is exploring the use of small modular reactors to eventually replace the Russia-designed VVER-440 unit with a net capacity of 376 MWe that has been in operation since 1980. It is expected to close in 2026.
The Armenian government has also approved construction of a second VVER unit. With only one nuclear power plant, the country is still heavily dependent on the facility for its electricity generation, which comes to 31 percent of the total produced in the country, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant is located about 30 kilometers west of Yerevan, close to the Turkish border. Operation began in 1980, but the plants two reactors were closed following a major earthquake in 1988. The currently operating reactor was restarted in 1995.
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