The AP1000 unit reached first criticality in March and was connected to the electricity grid in April. It has been undergoing testing through the full range of plant operations at gradually increasing power levels in a process known as power ascension testing.
The operation of the reactor, control systems for the reactor and support systems, and integrated plant operations are tested at each power level, with plant performance monitored under various conditions. Now the unit has reached 100% power, further tests must now be performed before it is available for reliable dispatch in accordance with its combined operating licence, Southern Company said.
“As we enter the final stages of start-up testing, reaching 100 percent power for the first time is an exciting milestone. It tells us we’re close to finishing the unit safely and bringing it online to power Georgia homes and businesses with reliable, emissions-free energy for decades to come,” Georgia Power President and CEO Kim Greene said.
It is now just over 10 years since construction of two Westinghouse AP1000s began at the site near Waynesboro. Work started on unit 3 in March 2013 and unit 4 in November of that year. Unit 4 completed hot functional testing – which confirms the reactor is ready to be loaded with nuclear fuel – earlier this month. The first fuel for unit 4 was delivered on 3 May, ahead of fuel loading later this year. Vogtle 4 is expected to enter service late this year or early in 2024.
Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power, both subsidiaries of Southern Company, took over management of the construction project in 2017 following Westinghouse’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The units are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, and will be operated by Southern Nuclear.
Source: World Nuclear News