Focus now turns to submission of key documentation
Hot functional testing has been completed at Unit 4 at the Vogtle nuclear power station expansion project in the US state of Georgia with the plant projected to enter service in the late fourth quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024.
Georgia Power said the completion of hot functional testing marks a significant step towards operations. The company said hot functional testing was completed in a shorter time for Unit 4 than Unit 3.
Hot functional testing is carried out to verify the successful operation of reactor components and systems together and confirm the reactor is ready for fuel load.
It involves running plant systems at normal operating pressure and temperature, without nuclear fuel in the reactor, to demonstrate the systems will operate as designed.
“Now, the site team focuses on completing the remaining work necessary to submit documentation to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that all inspection, tests and analyses have been performed and all acceptance criteria, collectively known as ITAACS, have been met on Vogtle Unit 4 as required by Southern Nuclear’s combined operating licence,” a statement said. “Each ITAAC closure notice must be verified before fuel can be loaded into the reactor.”
Once normal operating temperature and pressure levels are achieved and sustained, the unit’s main turbine will be raised to normal operating speed using steam from the plant.
In March, Vogtle-3, an identical 1,117-MW pressurised water reactor unit, achieved first criticality.
Georgia Power is the lead owner of the Vogtle project, for which Westinghouse has provided two Generation III+ AP1000 units.
Construction of Vogtle-3 began in March 2013 and of Vogtle-4 in November 2013. They are the first units of their kind being built in the US.
The in-service date for Vogtle-3 when the project was approved in 2012 was 2016, but the project has seen a number of delays and cost overruns.