Astravets nuclear power plant

From Global Energy Monitor
Part of the
Global Nuclear Power Tracker,
a Global Energy Monitor project.
Report an error

Other names: Belarusian; Ostrovets

Astravets nuclear power plant is an operating nuclear power plant in Varnianski sieĺski Saviet, Astravyets District, Hrodna Region, Belarus.

Project Details

Table 1: Unit-level project details for Astravets nuclear power plant

Unit name Status Commissioning year Nameplate capacity Reactor type Model Owner Operator
1 Operating[1] 2021[1] 1194 MW[1] Pressurized water reactor[1] VVER V-491[1] Republican Unitary Enterprise "Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant"[1] Republican Unitary Enterprise "Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant"[1]
2 Construction[2] 2023[3][4] 1194 MW[2] Pressurized water reactor[2] VVER V-491[2] Republican Unitary Enterprise "Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant"[2] Republican Unitary Enterprise "Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant"[2]

Table 2: Additional unit-level timeline details for Astravets nuclear power plant

Unit name Construction start First criticality (more info) First grid connection Commercial operation
1 November 8, 2013[1] October 11, 2020[1] November 3, 2020[1] June 10, 2021[1]
2 April 27, 2014[2] March 25, 2023[2] May 13, 2023[2] October 1, 2023[3]

Table 3: Additional unit-level capacity details for Astravets nuclear power plant

(Read more about nuclear capacity definitions.)

Unit name Reference net capacity Design net capacity Thermal capacity
1 1110 MW[1] 1110 MW[1] 3200 MWt[1]
2 1110 MW[2] 1110 MW[2] 3200 MWt[2]


Table 4: Unit-level location details for Astravets nuclear power plant

Unit name Location Coordinates (WGS 84)
1 Varnianski sieĺski Saviet, Astravyets District, Hrodna Region, Belarus[5] 54.7598, 26.0937 (exact)[5]
2 Varnianski sieĺski Saviet, Astravyets District, Hrodna Region, Belarus[5] 54.7598, 26.0937 (exact)[5]

The map below shows the exact location of the nuclear power plant:

Loading map...

General Overview

The Astravets plant is the first nuclear power plant in Belarus. It is located near the north-western border of Belarus, 18 kilometres from the city of Ostrovets, Grodno region, and only about 50km away from the capital of Lithuania - Vilnius. It is also in close proximity to other EU countries such as Poland, Latvia and Estonia.

The units are the first VVER-1200 units to operate outside Russia. The first unit entered operations in 2021. The second unit was still under construction, as of April 2023.

The plant is owned by State Enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant.


Construction of the Astravets nuclear power plant was first considered in the late 1960s, but in 1971, the Soviet government supported the construction at the the site in Lithuania, where the Ignalina nuclear power plant was built.[6] In late 1970s and 1980s due to growth in power demand, the idea of building a nuclear power plant in Belarus was revived. In 1983, the construction of the Minsk nuclear power plant began, but after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the construction was abandoned and instead the Minsk CHP-5 power station was erected.[6]

A nuclear power plant in Belarus was considered again in the early 1990s. More than 70 potential sites for the station have been identified, but many were eliminated.[6] In May 2002, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated that Belarus would not construct a nuclear power plant on its territory, but was interested in purchasing nuclear power from Russia. However, in mid 2006, the Government of Belarus approved a plan for the construction of an initial 2000 MW nuclear power plant in the Mogilev Oblast, allegedly following the 2007 dispute with Russia on the supply of gas.[7] The Belarusian Security Council made the decision to construct the Astravets nuclear power plant in January 2008.[7]

On March 15, 2011, during the visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Minsk, the signing of an agreement on cooperation in the construction of the nuclear plant was announced[6]. In October 2011, Belarus signed a construction contract with Atomstroyexport CJSC to build power units No. 1 and No.2.[6]


A preliminary turnkey construction contract with Atomstroyexport for a 2400 MWe plant (2 x 1200 MWe AES-2006 units using V-491 reactors) was signed in October 2011 by Belarus state-owned Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate, and a general construction contract was signed in July 2012.[8]

  • General designer: Nizhny Novgorod Atomenergoproekt
  • Atomstroyexport: supplier of the 3rd generation VVER-1200 type reactors (AES-2006 model)[7]
  • Scientific adviser: Kurchatov Institute (Moscow)
  • Turbine manufacturer: Power Machines
  • Belarusian companies as subcontractors[6]


Russia provided Belarus with a US$10 billion construction loan for a period of 25 years. Total project cost is estimated at $US 11 billion.[6][7]

In February 2012 Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank and Belarusian commercial bank Belvnesheconombank (BelVEB) signed an agreement needed to implement the Russian export credit facility. In May 2012 the parties said that the first instalment under the design contract would be $US 204 million, and that this would be followed by $285 million for pre-construction site works. This was confirmed with an agreement signed in May 2014.[8]

Repayment of the loan was to begin six months after the start of operations (but no later than April 2021) and to be carried out in dollars until 2035 in equal instalments every six months. Half of loan is charged 5.23% per annum, the other half at a floating rate LIBOR (about 1% or less) + 1.83% per annum.[6] In April 2019, negotiations began to extend the term of the loan from 25 to 35 years and to reduce the interest rate.

In March 2021, Russia ratified a law amending the Belarusian-Russian intergovernmental agreement on a loan, including to extend the period of loan drawdown until the end of 2022 and postponement of the date of the start of repayment April 1, 2021 to April 1, 2023, as well as switching to a fixed interest rate of 3.3% per annum.[6]

Unit 1 Construction

Excavation work began at the end of 2011.[6] First concrete was in November 2013 though the full construction licence was not issued until April 2014.[8]

In December 2015, the reactor vessel of the first power unit was delivered and installation began in January 2016.[6]

In December 2017, the passage of active and passive safety systems to the open reactor began. In October 2018, the assembly of the reactor began. In April 2019, the first stage of pre start-up adjustment work started before loading fuel into the first power unit. In September 2019, hydraulic tests of the systems and equipment were conducted. In November 2019, tests of the hermetic enclosure of the reactor building for tightness and strength were completed. In December 2019, a hot run-in of the reactor plant began, completed in April 2020.[6]

In May 2020, the first batch of nuclear fuel was delivered to the site and loading began in August 2020. In November 2020, the unit was connected to the grid. On November 7, the ceremony of launching the unit was held, with the participation of Alexander Lukashenko. In December, start-up tests were completed and pilot operation conducted. In January 2021, the unit was connected to the grid. Commercial operation started in June 2021.[6]

Unit 2 Construction

A construction licence for the basemat of Unit 2 was issued by the Ministry in February 2014.[8] Construction started in May 2014, several months ahead of schedule. The full construction licence was issued at the end of December 2014.[8][6]

In December 2017, the reactor vessel was installed and installation of the first steam generator started. In April 2018, concreting of the inner containment dome was completed. In June 2020, the stage of the passage of active and passive safety systems to the open reactor began.[6] In October 4, 2021, the hot run-in phase of the reactor plant was successfully completed and it was planned to load fresh nuclear fuel into the core of the reactor plant. The fuel was delivered in April 2021. In December 2021, the loading of nuclear fuel into the reactor of the second power unit began. In April 2022, the physical start-up of the reactor was carried out.[6][8]

As of February 2023, according to Bellona report, Unit 2 has not yet been put into operation and work on it is far behind schedule.[9] In March 2023, it was reported that Unit 2 will be commissioned in October 2023.[10]


The intergovernmental agreement between Belarus and Russia provides for a guarantee of fuel supply during the life of the plant and the return of Russian-made spent fuel. The Russian company TVEL supplies fuel assemblies with an enrichment of 3.8–4.5%, profiled with gadolinium. The fuel campaign will be 5-6 years, after which the fuel will be stored in the basin for about 5-10 years, until the decay heat release is reduced to an acceptable level. Then the fuel will be loaded into transport and packaging containers and taken to TVEL JSC for processing into new fuel.[6]


As of October 2016, 10 accidents occurred at the construction site, 3 of them were fatal. In July 2018, another fatality occurred when an installation worker fell from a height.[6]

In July 2016, during the installation of the reactor vessel on Unit 1, it fell from a height of 2 to 4 metres, resulting in some damage to the vessel. After some public scrutiny, the Minister of Energy announced in August 2016 that the reactor pressure vessel would be replaced.[6][7] The vessel intended for Unit 2 was used in Unit 1, incurring about a 6-month delay in construction, while the original vessel was to be used elsewhere. The new one was shipped from Atommash in Volgodonsk late in October 2016.[8]

Early Operations

Shortly after the start of commercial operations, in July 2021 automatic generator protection went off and Unit 1 was disconnected from the grid. Diagnostics of technological systems and units of the turbogenerator were carried out. The unit was connected back to the grid on October 4th.[6]

Just a month later in November 2021, the first power unit was shut down under the action of automation, after which the export of electricity to Ukraine was stopped.

On April 26, 2022, the first power unit was shut down for scheduled repairs and the first partial refueling of nuclear fuel. The renovation was completed in August 2022.

The Unit 1 reactor is allegedly unstable and has been idle for almost half the time since its opening, according to one report.[9] The reasons for this state of affairs lie not only in Western sanctions and war, but also in numerous deviations from standards. In 2022, Unit 1 generated only 4.69 billion kWh, while 11.7 billion kWh have been generated over the entire period of its operation. While the designed annual output of two power units is 17.74 billion kWh, for one it is 8.87 billion kWh.[9]

Opposition and Controversy

Civil society groups have in 2008 campaigned and collected signatures against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus.[7]

The plant is controversial due to its location being in close proximity with Lithuania. The Lithuanian government boycotted the power plant and established anti-radiation safety measures.[7] In 2017, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted a law “On the recognition of an unsafe nuclear power plant in the Ostrovets region of the Republic of Belarus, which poses a threat to national security, the environment and the health of the population of the Republic of Lithuania.[6]

In December 2009 European ECO Forum Legal Focal Points submitted a complaint to the Compliance Committee of the Aarhus Convention challenging the legality of NPP construction due to violation of public participation rights provided by the Aarhus Convention.[7]

In July 2009, a Ukrainian NGO sent a complaint to the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention alleging numerous violations of the Espoo Convention. In particular, the complaint argued that Belarus is in violation of the requirements of the convention by pre-defining two key alternatives of the nuclear power plant construction – location and no-action alternative, as well as by not establishing an environmental impact assessment procedure that permits public participation.[7] Subsequently on 7 February 2019, the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention decided that Belarus had violated the convention in choosing a construction site for its nuclear power plant.[7]

In February 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution demanding the suspension of the launch of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravets due to concerns about its safety. European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said that EU experts have completed their visit to the nuclear power plant and will prepare a report on the results of stress tests by early March. In the adopted resolution, the European Parliament, in particular, criticizes "the hasty commissioning of the plant and the lack of transparency and official information regarding the frequent emergency shutdowns of the reactor and equipment failure."[6][11]

Potential Expansion

In May 2018 the deputy prime minister of Belarus said that two more reactors would be built "in the short term". In January 2022 Rosatom said that it was working with Belarus on the possible construction of a second plant. This was confirmed by Belarus’s Deputy Energy Minister in 2022.[8][12]

Articles and Resources

Additional data

To access additional data, including an interactive map of global nuclear power plants, a downloadable dataset, and summary data, please visit the Global Nuclear Power Tracker on the Global Energy Monitor website.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 "Белорусская АЭС". Wikipedia. Retrieved April 2023. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |access-date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 "Astravets Nuclear Power Plant". Retrieved April 2023. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |access-date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 "Nuclear Power in Belarus". updated December 2022. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Belarus hints at building a second nuclear power plant without resolving problems at its first". February 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "October commercial operation target for second Belarus unit". March 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "MEPs call for suspension of the launch of the Belarus nuclear plant in Ostrovets". February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Беларусь ведет переговоры с РФ о строительстве второй АЭС - Лукашенко". January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)