Rosatom director-general Alexey Likhachov has explained the Russian state nuclear corporation’s “long-range agenda” at the 61st Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference being held this week in Vienna. During the event, Rosatom signed a number of agreements with its international partners.
In his address to the conference, on 18 September, Likhachov said: “We are sure that nuclear power development today is inextricably connected with fast neutron reactors and closing the nuclear fuel cycle. Today, Russia is the leader in this field.”
He referred to MBIR – the multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor that is under construction at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (NIIAR) at Dmitrovgrad, which is in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region. He also mentioned the ‘Proryv’, or Breakthrough, project that targets a closed nuclear fuel cycle by eliminating production of radioactive waste from nuclear power generation.
Likhachov said the global nuclear industry is facing two strategic challenges.
“First, it is energy poverty and worldwide inequality in accessing electricity. Second, it is the threat of irreversible destruction of the ecosystem worldwide. One can respond to these two challenges only through the growth and simultaneous change in the world electricity mix structure.” Reducing the use of hydrocarbons “is our responsibility to our descendants”, he added.
“If the power capacity of existing NPPs – 329 GWe – were due to coal- and gas-fired sources, about 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere each year. All the forests on the planet annually absorb 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. In other words, approximately, nuclear power is commensurate to the ‘ecological capacity’ of all the forests on the planet,” he said.
“Everybody understands that the future belongs to green power. Solar, wind, hydro and the atom, while supplementing and strengthening each other, must form the green square which will be the basis of the world’s carbon-free mix. The IAEA forecasts that, by 2050, the total share of clean energy generation in the world energy mix should be more than 80%. Respectively, the installed capacity of NPPs should increase up to 930 GWe. This means that, given the replacements of retired NPPs, we are to commission more than 20 GWe of new nuclear capacity annually already in ten years. This is a very ambitious but doable task. Its solution will depend, in the first place, on us – the countries that have elected to [use] nuclear,” he said.
The low-carbon sources of electricity are not rivals, he stressed, since they are all part of the solution to climate change. “But we need a new level of cooperation in the global nuclear community,” he said.
“The first area of cooperation is simply the IAEA philosophy of nuclear safety. We support the Secretariat with its strengthening of requirements in this area. We are ready to support this work with our competences and resources,” he said.
“The second area is the change to nuclear power’s reputation. We respect the choice of each country whether to develop nuclear power or not, [but] it is important to base this choice on scientific knowledge rather than fear. We need to convince society, governments, and scientific and expert communities that nuclear power is clean, safe and economically attractive,” he added.
Both in Russia and in the countries where it is building nuclear power facilities, Rosatom works “systemically” to increase public acceptance of nuclear.
“We have good experience in this. We are ready to share this experience. We believe these provisions should be reflected in related resolutions of today’s General Conference. This approach should be fixed in the final document of the upcoming Ministerial Conference of the IAEA in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“Four years ago, at the Ministerial Conference in Saint-Petersburg, we stated that for many countries nuclear power was a tested, clean, safe and economically attractive technology. Now, we have to take the next step: to go from understanding public acceptance of nuclear to forming its demand by society. In the near future, the Russian Federation will make its proposals in this respect. The world nuclear industry can and must implement its potential in technological leadership and become one of the key participants of the fourth industrial revolution,” he added.
During the conference, Rosatom and the IAEA signed ‘practical arrangements’ regarding cooperation in the rehabilitation of uranium legacy facilities in Central Asia. The document was signed by Nikolay Spassky, Rosatom deputy director-general, and Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA deputy director-general and head of the Agency’s Nuclear Safety and Security Department.
The practical arrangements are aimed at increasing the “efficiency of interaction” between Rosatom and the IAEA, the Russian corporation said, in the rehabilitation of former uranium production facilities in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. In particular, the document provides for the joint review of engineering solutions used in the rehabilitation of such legacy facilities, the research results, and measures for planning future activities, as well as joint development of strategies of participation in multi-sided projects.
Likhachov and Kanat Bozumbaev, minister of energy of Kazakhstan, yesterday signed two documents on nuclear power cooperation during the General Conference.
The first is a protocol to the agreement on cooperation in the recycling of nuclear ammunition that Kazakhstan and Russia signed in January 1995. Rosatom said the protocol “documents the successful completion of the largest disarmament project in human history”. As a result, about 500 tonnes of military uranium extracted from nuclear ammunition that had been stored in Russia and Kazakhstan have been transferred from the defence to the civilian category, it said.
The second document is an agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy research and development.
Rosatom also signed an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy with Cambodia during the General Conference. The document was signed by Spassky, and Tekreth Samrach, secretary of state and vice chairman of the National Council for Sustainable Development of Cambodia.
The agreement establishes a legal basis for the further development of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Cambodia in nuclear education and training, fundamental and applied research, and the use of irradiation technologies in manufacturing, medicine, agriculture, and environmental protection. The two countries in May last year signed memoranda on the establishment of an information centre for nuclear energy in Cambodia, and of a joint working group on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Rosatom has also announced the signing of a contract with the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN) for the construction of a nuclear research and technology centre in El Alto, Bolivia. The contract was signed by Vyacheslav Galushkov, director-general of JSC State Specialised Design Institute, a subsidiary of Rosatom, and Hortensia Jiménez Rivera, ABEN general executive director.
The centre will comprise a water-cooled research reactor with nominal power of up to 200 kW, a multi-purpose experimental gamma-installation, as well as a cyclotron and a radiopharmacology complex, engineering facilities and various laboratories. Investments in the project will exceed $300 million. The centre will enable the wide application of radiation technologies in agriculture, medicine, industry and other important spheres, Rosatom said. Commissioning of the centre’s first facilities is scheduled for 2019.
The site in El Alto selected for the centre will be at the highest altitude (4100 meters above sea level) ever used in the world for a nuclear power facility.
Source: World Nuclear News