Thinking big: Russian nuclear technology is being exported to countries including China, India and Turkey. Source: Photoshot / Vostock Photo
Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation, has concluded a record number of transactions this year for the construction of nuclear power plants. Rosatom will build the first nuclear power plants in Bangladesh and Jordan, expand its presence in China and India with the help of new power units, and build the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant (NPP) in north-west Finland. The company is also negotiating an agreement on co-operation with South Africa.
Rosatom also started new construction work in 2013: the Akkuyu NPP in Turkey, a nuclear power plant in Belarus and a plant for the production of nuclear fuel in Ukraine. The Russian company offers its customers new reactors that are innovative in terms of security. For example, passive safety systems in the VVER-1200 reactor used in the NPP-2006 plant can guarantee that the so-called Fukushima scenario in Japan will never happen again.
Rosatom has 19 orders for the installation of similar reactors abroad and is building eight such reactors in Russia.
“In my opinion, the most important quality of Russian companies is the package proposal they come with to a potential customer,” said the independent nuclear expert Alexander Uvarov. This can be demonstrated by the example of South Africa, where a conference of nuclear suppliers, Atomex-Africa, was held last month. According to Mr Uvarov, the Russians have not only invited South African companies into the supply chain for new nuclear projects, but also offered the new partner a huge range of options for development of the entire spectrum of the nuclear fuel cycle.
These range from the establishment of research and education centres and the development of medical isotopes to a reactor and an enterprise for nuclear fuel production. In addition, Russian companies can provide up to 85% financing for nuclear power plant projects through export credits.
Rosatom’s achievements in 2013 suggest that its confidence for continued success in the future is not misplaced. It is too early to talk about specific technologies, but it is highly likely that Russian nuclear power plants generating electricity will appear in Britain in the coming years. And it is clear that Rosatom will offer Britain the best designs of its power units, with every possible security system.
Moscow can be a reliable partner for London in the field of peaceful nuclear energy, just as it has been for Washington for decades. On December 10, 2013, Russia and the United States completed a Megatons to Megawatts agreement on the supply of enriched uranium converted from nuclear warheads for use in American nuclear power plants. Russia has been supplying uranium to the US for 20 years and it is likely that, without this contract, the American nuclear power generation industry would have ceased to exist.
Today no one is surprised that every 10th light bulb in America is burning thanks to electricity generated by fuel from the Russian nuclear industry.
Rosatom was set up as a state-owned corporation in 2008 to manage Russia’s civilian and military nuclear assets. It employs 270,000 people across more than 240 subsidiary companies and is the world’s leading constructor of new nuclear plants.
Rosatom is responsible for building 28 out of the 68 reactors under construction around the globe. By comparison, French competitor Areva, is building four.
Sergei Kirienko, Rosatom’s director general, said in July that the corporation had increased the value of its foreign contracts by 60% to $66.5bn (£40.6bn) in the past two years.
Rosatom aims to triple sales by 2030 and has marketing offices in six countries.
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