Does Armenia give up on its nuclear power plant?

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Next summer the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant will stop for two months for activities on its lifetime extension. Another four months - before and after a complete stop - the station will work at half load.

Russia's Rosatom together with Armenia's experts will carry out the project to extend the lifetime of the nuclear power plant for ten years: they will start in the spring of 2017 and last about six months, RIA Novosti reported.

The Armenian government decided to extend the lifetime of the second power unit of the nuclear power plant in March 2014 due to delays in the construction of a new nuclear power unit. Russia and Armenia have signed an agreement, according to which Russia will allocate $270 million as a loan and a grant of $30 million to extend operation of the NPP, but the lifetime of the Armenian NPP may be short after repair works. The European Union demanded to close the Armenian nuclear power plant in exchange for cooperation.

The nuclear power plant can be replaced by primarily hydropower stations - it will be cheaper. Moreover, even the already existing cascades - the Vorotan and Sevan-Hrazdan hydropower plants - can do it, with a total average electricity consumption of 2.2 billion kWh in 2018 they are capable of producing about 1.08 billion and 0.4 billion kWh per year, respectively.

In addition, Hrazdan and Yerevan TPPs operate in the country, generating a total of almost 1.5 billion kWh per year.

The deputy director of energy policy of the Institute of Energy and Finances, Alexey Belogoriev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, explained that this is only a temporary suspension, not a decision to close the Armenian nuclear power plant.

"Taking into account the peculiarities of Armenia's geopolitical situation, its detachment from the Unified Energy System, it is risky to completely exclude nuclear generation from the energy sector, at least in the medium term, since hydrogeneration is relatively unstable and. In addition, there is the possibility of increasing gas generation. In general, Armenia has such possibilities due to its supplies of Russian and Iranian gas, but there are also certain risks. These supplies are unreliable due to the fact that the gas line passes through the territory of a third country, and there is a risk connected with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the expert said, adding that it is important for Armenia to have a differentiated energy sector.

"Much is being done in the renewable energy of Armenia now, a progress has been achieved in the last months, especially in the solar energy sector. But so far it is of a local nature. Therefore, frankly speaking, I do not see Armenia's justified opportunity to abandon its own nuclear generation," Alexey Belogoriev believes.

Asked whether Armenia can still leave the plant at a minimum that cannot be replaced at the expense of other sources, the expert replied: "If this decision is technologically possible, Armenia will accept it. As for security issues, a decreased or increased capacity does not affect this indicator, "Alexei Belogoriev concluded.