Nuclear Power in Belarus

Nico Corti
May 4, 2017

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2017

Need for Nuclear Energy

Fig. 1: World Map highlighting Belarus (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Belarus, located in Eastern Europe (see Fig. 1), has its first nuclear power plant under construction and plans to have it operating from 2018, with Russian finance. The 2400 MWe plant is being built by Atomstroyexport is building the 2400 MWe plant. It will include two nuclear reactors. [1] The boost given by access to nuclear energy would be a major boost for the Eastern European country. Belarus produces only 31 TWh/yr from 8 GWe of plant, almost entirely gas-fired. It has net imports of 8 TWh/yr while consumption is 30TWh. Making the per capita consumption about 3330kWh/yr. [1] Government plans to reform the electricity sector have stalled, leaving the nuclear sector as the best option for energy reform.

Under its 2011-2020 energy strategy, Belarus is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russia as a major energy supplier. The plan calls for a 2400 MWe nuclear power plant as well a coal-fired plant, four hydropower stations, and several wind projects. [1] If fully implemented, the strategy would bring the share of power generated using Russian gas down to 55% by 2020, from over 80% in 2009. [2] Gas demand in Belarus should also decrease by one-third.

Russian Dependence

The country imports approximately 90% of its gas from Russia much of it for electricity and overall aims for 25-30% energy independence. [2] The proposed 2400 MWe nuclear plant is expected to reduce gas imports by 5 billion m3 per year, now costing over US$ 800 million, while the fuel and waste management for it would be a quarter of this. [2]

Reactor MWe gross Start Construction Start Operation Commercial Operation
Ostsrovets 1 VVER-1200/491 1194 (1109 net) Nov 2013 mid-2018 end 2018
Ostsrovets 2 VVER-1200/491 1194 (1109 net) Nov 2014 mid-2020 end 2020
total (2) 2388
Table 1: Belarus timeline planned by the Ministry of Energy. [3]

Plans For Nuclear Capacity

In 2006 the government approved a plan for the construction of an initial 2000 MWe PWR nuclear power plant in the in the Mogilev region of eastern Belarus. [3] This was expected to provide electricity at half the cost of that from Russian gas and to provide some 30% of the electricity by 2020 at a cost of about 4 billion. [1]

Country MWe Net
Belarus 2388
Belgium 5943
Brazil 1901
Bulgaria 1926
Finland 2764
Mexico 1600
Switzerland 3333
Table 2: Nuclear capability country comparison, as per the IAEA. [4]

Russia's Atomstroyexport was awarded the contract for the 2 × 1000 MWe plant. Operation of the first unit was envisaged for 2016 and the second in 2018 (see Table 1). Two further units are proposed for operation by 2025. [1] A presidential decree determined that the sites for the nuclear plants would be Ostrovets and that the ownership of the pant could be partially or entirely private. [3]

Operation of the first unit of the Ostrovets plant is scheduled for November 2018. The second unit is planned to go online in late 2020. [3] At which point 2388 MWe net would be on line. Construction of the first unit started in November 2013. [1]

Country Comparison

Table 2 shows countries with similar nuclear net capacities as what Belarus will have upon the completion of the two nuclear reactors in Ostrovets. Countries all over the world and with varying levels of economic prosperity have similar nuclear capabilities to Belarus' current objective.

© Nico Corti. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "National Report of the National Republic of Belarus Under Convention on Nuclear Safety," Government of Belarus, 2013.

[2] M. M. Balmaceda, The Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure (Univeristy of Toronto Press, 2013).

[3] "Progress in Implementation the Project of the Belarusian NPP Construction," Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Belarus, February 2014.

[4] "Nuclear Power Reactors in the World," International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA-RDS-2/35, May 2015.