YEREVAN (Arka)—Russia will provide Armenia with a “nuclear island” as its contribution to the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Armenia to replace the existing one at Metzamor, Armenia’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Yervand Zakarian said Friday.
He said the nuclear island — a component at the heart of a reactor that houses the energy producing system — makes approximately 35% of the total cost of constructing a new facility. The remaining funding is to be secured by the Armenian government, Zakarian added, speaking at a press conference.
According to him, the construction of a new nuclear reactor will take 7-8 years, and it is not due to be completed until 2026, when the service life of the Metsamor nuclear power plant expires.
The Metsamor plant, located some 30 kilometers west of Yerevan, was built in the 1970s but was closed following a devastating earthquake in 1988. One of its two VVER 440-V230 light-water reactors was reactivated in 1995.
Armenian authorities want to replace the aging Metsamor facility with a new plant that is supposed to operate at twice the capacity of the Soviet-constructed facility, which currently generates some 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity.
But the government has yet to attract funding for the project that was estimated by a U.S.-funded feasibility study to cost at as much as $5 billion.
A major repair of the Armenian nuclear power plant estimated to cost around $300 million is scheduled to start in 2017 in order to extend its service life until 2026, according to Zakharyan. He said the work is scheduled to take six months.
Earlier this year the Armenian government reconfirmed its 2012 decision to extend the service life of the nuclear power plant in Metsamor by another ten years “because of the delay in the construction of a new nuclear facility.”
On July 4, Zakharyan said that Armenia and Russia would soon sign an agreement whereby Russia would provide Armenia with a $300 million loan to that end.