Plant Operation

Vogtle-4 / US Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Maximum Output As Commissioning Gathers Pace

By Kamen Kraev
8 April 2024

Testing to continue with commercial operation scheduled for second quarter

US Nuclear Power Plant Reaches Maximum Output As Commissioning Gathers Pace
An aerial view of the Vogtle-3 and Vogtle-4 nuclear power plants in the US state of Georgia. Courtesy Georgia Power.

The Vogtle-4 nuclear power plant in the US state of Georgia, the nation’s newest commercial reactor unit, has reached full power as commercial operation approaches.

Georgia Power, majority owner of the Vogle nuclear station, said on its official social media channels that the “milestone” event marked the maximum energy the unit is licensed to produce in its reactor core – about 1,100 MW of net electric power.*

The company said staff will continue to conduct testing for the unit, including “safely running at various power levels and operating through real-life conditions”.

In March, Vogtle-4 was connected to the national grid and started producing its first electricity at minimal power level. It reached first criticality on 14 February 2024.

Georgia Power said at the time that operators would continue to raise reactor power for generation of electricity while performing tests at various power levels, ultimately raising power to 100%.

Commercial operation for Vogtle-4 is planned for the second quarter of 2024. The plant is the second Westinghouse AP1000 pressurised water reactor unit at the Georgia site. Twin unit Vogtle-3 began commercial operation on 31 July 2023.

Vogtle-3 and -4 are the first nuclear units to be built in the US in more than three decades, but have seen cost overruns and delays. Construction of Vogtle-3 began in March 2013 and of Vogtle-4 in November 2013.

Not including Vogtle-4, the US has 93 operating commercial nuclear reactors at 55 sites in 28 states. They generate about 18% of the country’s electricity. Vogtle-4 is the only unit under construction.

There are two older Westinghouse reactors at Vogtle that began commercial operation in the late 1980s.

* According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s reactor database, the net reference power of Vogtle-4 is 1,117 MWe and its gross design output is 1,250 MWe.

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