Rosatom offers to build 40 nuclear power units

Publish date: January 27, 2006

The new director of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power is confident that in the next 25 years, Russia must build 40 nuclear power units. The cost of this gigantic program, according to specialists, could reach $60 billion.

On January 20, Sergei Kirienko told President Vladimir Putin that the agency was planning to build 40 nuclear power units before 2030, raising the share of electricity generated by nuclear plants from the current 16% to 25%. In the same period, Kirienko plans to build another 40 to 60 units abroad. “The key goal here is, of course, to restore the entire technological cycle, because the nuclear industry of the Soviet Union was scattered throughout the republics,” said Kirienko, who has already discussed his plans with Central Asian and Ukrainian officials.

Adopted in 2002, Russia’s energy strategy stipulates that nuclear plants will be generating between 18% and 23% of electricity by 2020. According to a Chamber of Accounts estimate published January 20, the industry’s own resources will not be enough to meet the targets of even the current strategy.

As estimated by Andrei Zubkov, vice-president of Trust Bank, the 40 units will cost approximately $50-60 billion to build and “obviously the bulk of this money should come from the budget”. He described the construction of the nuclear power plants as well justified and as meeting “the existing world trends in view of rising prices and the shortage of hydrocarbons”. The banker said that “after a 20-year interval, the U.S. will soon issue the first licenses for new NPPs”.

But Vladimir Milov, president of the Energy Policy Institute, does not consider Kirienko’s plans rational. In his view, Russia has enough NPPs and their proportion of electricity generated in European Russia is already 50%. “Raising the percentage of nuclear power plants will create problems for power management and scheduling, since the NPPs keep delivering constant power all the time and are not as flexible as turbine plants,” Milov said. “France, for example, has to export nuclear power to the UK for free at night”, reported RIA-Novosti.