Home » today » News » Russia is first in the world in the construction of nuclear power plants, but this is not enough – 2024-04-22 16:48:53

Russia is first in the world in the construction of nuclear power plants, but this is not enough – 2024-04-22 16:48:53

/ world today news/ Russia is ahead of all countries in the world in terms of the number of nuclear power plants under construction. This was reported by TASS, referring to the database of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Today, 58 power units are being built in the world, 23 of which are being built by Russia.

Our closest competitor is China. Three Chinese companies CNNC, CSPI and CGN are building a total of 22 nuclear power units. But there are two “buts”.

First, the same Rosatom is involved in the construction of five of these 22 units. Second, the Chinese are focused on projects on their territory, while the Russian state corporation dominates work abroad.

In many ways this is a legacy of the socialist camp when the Soviet Union provided Eastern Europe with the “peaceful atom”. Local nuclear scientists preserved this legacy after the collapse of the social bloc and maintain it now.

A recent example: on November 14, the head of Rosatom, Alexey Likhachov, and the head of Hungarian diplomacy, Peter Szijjártó, approved the schedule for the construction of the Paks-2 nuclear power plant by the early 1930s.

The first Paks, built by Soviet nuclear scientists, has been operating smoothly since 1982. The four units of this station, which provide up to 50% of Hungary’s electricity, should last until 2050. It is clear why the country is interested in both our nuclear fuel and and by our specialists, contrary to the general line of the European Union to impose sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry.

Not only the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico are against the inclusion of Rosatom in the blacklist in the 12th and subsequent packages of sanctions.

Cooperation with Moscow regarding the “peaceful atom” is also carried out by countries whose governments are openly Russophobic – for example, Finland, where the “Soviet” nuclear power plant Loviisa has been operating since 1977. Or the Czech Republic, whose largest nuclear power plant in Temelín began to be built during socialist times and opened its doors in 2002.

The Russian nuclear industry is actively working all over the world, not only overtaking the Chinese one, but leaving behind such old players as the USA, France and Canada, nuclear energy specialist Alexander Uvarov told TASS.

But there is a “but” here too.

The experience of the American and European sanctions shows that the USA and the EU will not stop even in the face of losses for themselves, just to harm the Russian economy and its main (including export) industries. Our “nuclear power plant” and the sale of fuel for nuclear power plants have repeatedly been called the next victim after the “oil industry” and the sale of gas.

To reach a record for twenty years

The plans of Russian nuclear scientists see the current first place in the world rankings for the construction of NPP units at home and abroad only as a springboard for further growth.

We need to build 17 power units only by 2035,” Rosatom General Director Likhachev shared in May.

Plans are being made to implement the president’s directives: in 2020, Vladimir Putin said that the share of nuclear energy in Russia’s total energy balance should increase from the then 19% to at least 25%.

To reach the required level by the specified date – which is 2045 – it will be necessary to build three dozen new reactors, gradually decommissioning reactors of older models. That is, following the logic, it is necessary to build 60 power units – and this, all in all, will have to fit into a little more than twenty years.

But there is also an ongoing construction program abroad.

Currently, Russian specialists are building units with the latest VVER-1200 reactors in Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey and Iran at the famous Akkuyu and Bushehr stations, as well as in China at the Tianwan NPP. Brazil, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and two post-Soviet countries – Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – have shown interest in working with Russia.

In addition, Rosatom plans to continue the project for floating nuclear power plants, following the example of the Akademik Lomonosov NPP, which has been successfully operating since 2020 in Chukotka. The development of the “floating atom” is part of the project for the rise of the Far North, in particular the expansion of gold, tin, copper and tungsten mining in the Russian Arctic. This will require an increase in energy capacity, nuclear energy specialist Alexander Uvarov told IA Regnum.

In addition, Russian floating power plants are in their own right another potential high-income export product.

Finally, we should mention the program for the production of small nuclear power. New types of small modular reactors will require new technologies that are not yet available in Russia, nuclear energy expert Alexei Anpilogov told IA Regnum.

The concept of small reactors is actually antithetical to the mainstream energy development of the previous half century. In many ways, it is based on a mass of non-obvious innovations that have yet to be implemented.” noted the expert. The technology involves the development of a new type of reactor, most likely with liquid-metal cooling, and with a new approach to safety.

But will Rosatom have enough strength to do all this, taking into account the possible sanctions?

We will not “pull” without spare parts

If you can be calm about the availability of uranium reserves, the necessary raw material for nuclear fuel, then under the pressure of sanctions, unfriendly countries can complicate the work of Rosatom enterprises or disrupt the supply of their necessary equipment.

In the long term, beneficiaries of the sanctions such as the US company Westinghouse want to deprive Rosatom of projects to build new nuclear power plants and competitive advantage in the industry. Therefore, Russian nuclear scientists are thinking about achieving complete technological independence as soon as possible.

In order for all plans to be implemented, it is extremely important for Russia, as part of import substitution, to form new supply chains, find analogues for some components and ensure the extension of the life of the equipment, noted last year the director general of Rosenergoatom Alexander Shutikov.

During the modernization, it will be necessary to replace the equipment with local ones, to master the production of spare parts (spare parts, tools and accessories) in the Russian plants, Shutikov listed then.

It is also completely necessary “switching to domestic ion-exchange resins and reagents, as well as home-grown software.”

It is obvious that nuclear scientists are already working, taking into account the increasingly unfavorable external conditions. Rosatom is now planning a proactive replacement of power units, notes Anpilogov.

If the production program somehow does not work, we will have a fairly safe and manageable opportunity to achieve the goal of a quarter of nuclear production,” explains the expert.

An advantage compared to Soviet times

What works in our favor is that US and European sanctions against Russia are not at all the total sanctions regime that the West used against the Soviet Union during the confrontation between the two systems.

Already in the 1960s and 1970s, Western countries acted as a virtual monopolist of many production technologies, easily coordinating restrictive measures among themselves, in particular within such a structure as COCOM.” notes Anpilogov.

COCOM (Coordinating Committee on Export Control), we recall, was a structure of the NATO countries that suppressed the supply of goods and technology to the USSR and the countries of the socialist camp.

Now it’s another thing. The West controls only part of the technologies and know-how, and even in these individual industries its control is not complete, Anpilogov points out.

According to him, the loss of the West’s monopoly on many production secrets and Russia’s cooperation with suppliers such as India and China allow our country to successfully modernize and develop nuclear energy.

Sanctions can affect the implementation of foreign projects, Uvarov points out in turn. But this, according to him, threatens only small delays in implementation. Possible refusals of foreign contractors to cooperate will not lead to the cancellation of construction or critical changes in the plans, he is convinced.

If one of the subcontractors withdraws from a foreign project due to the sanctions, then another will simply take his place, “- summarizes the expert.

Translation: ES

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