The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has completed hot functional testing on its new 1,200MW unit 2 of Watts Bar nuclear power plant, located near Spring City, Tennessee, US.

The hot functional testing is a critical pre-operational requirement for TVA to secure Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) operating license, prior to fueling the reactor.

During the eight-week testing, operators used the heat generated by plant to increase the temperature and pressure of almost 60 systems to normal operating levels and to turn up the unit’s main turbine to normal operating speed.

The testing validated ability of the unit to operate safely and the station’s readiness for dual-unit operation.

Watts Bar Operations and Construction senior vice-president Mike Skaggs said: "Successful completion of these tests demonstrates the key operational readiness of Watts Bar Unit 2 in preparation to load fuel."

The power station has successfully completed vessel testing, cold hydrostatic testing and secondary hydrostatic testing, validating its operations while complying with the NRC regulations.

Further testing will be carried out by TVA to assess the integrity of primary containment and safety-related equipment including emergency diesel generators.

Along with the operational Unit 1, the Watts Bar plant is expected to generate carbon-free electricity to power 1.3 million homes.