Russian minister starts third unit of 360-MW Svetlinskaya

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev pushed the button February 6 to start up the third turbine-generator of the 360-MW Svetlinskaya hydroelectric project being completed on the Vilyui River of Yakutia Republic.

The ceremony was attended by other officials of Russia, Yakutia, and the Alrosa diamond mining company, which became a major stockholder of the stalled, partially built project in 1999. Svetlinskaya was formerly known as Vilyui 3 hydropower plant, the third in a cascade of hydro projects planned for the Vilyui River in Russia’s Far East.

Medvedev, the front-runner in Russia’s March 2 presidential election, complimented Alrosa for giving new life to the stalled project. He said the hydro project would help solve pressing social problems in Russia’s northern territories.

Alrosa President Sergey Vybornov said the project will supply power to diamond mining operations and to community facilities in Yakutia.

�It is well known that hydroenergetics is one of the cheapest providers of energy,� Vybornov said. �Along with that, Alrosa carries out an important function of supporting social development of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).�

The first unit of Svetlinskaya was commissioned in 2004. After the project’s four 90-MW units reach full design capacity, the project is to generate up to 1.2 billion kWh per year, Alrosa said.

Alrosa said Svetlinskaya is the world’s first and only hydropower project to be built on permafrost and not a bedrock foundation. Its construction began in 1979 and halted in the mid-1980s. Work resumed in May 1999.

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