Russian Experience and Skill Can Benefit CFE and MexicoBy Cas Biekmann | Fri, 08/27/2021 - 11:09
Q: How do the benefits of nuclear energy as a CO2-free power source compare with renewable energy?
A: It is important to note that there is no debate between renewable and nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is a great, stable, safe and cheap supply of energy for a country’s baseload. If a country has access to nuclear energy, it can develop many alternative renewable energies, such as wind and solar, which are more intermittent and produce more or less depending on climate conditions. Together, these energies provide a great opportunity to decarbonize because they work well in tandem.
In Latin America, there are several countries using or planning to use nuclear power, including Brazil, and Mexico has a nuclear power plant in Laguna Verde. Our main business in this region is not only nuclear energy per se but nuclear applications. Rosatom is one of the biggest suppliers of isotopes for nuclear medicine in Brazil, contributing to the crucial fight against dangerous diseases like cancer. Nuclear applications are, therefore, not only energy-related but also help countries solve problems and increase living standards in other ways. The Mexican market is interested in these solutions too. Rosatom is in contact with the National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ).
Q: What added value has allowed Rosatom to win a contract to supply CFE with enriched uranium?
A: Rosatom is a global leader in providing enriched uranium, occupying one-third of the global uranium enrichment market. We have abundant capacity and our technology to enrich uranium is the cheapest and most efficient. This is a benefit to all our clients, including CFE, which has plans to significantly overhaul its nuclear power plant to make it more efficient
Since 2003, Rosatom's subsidiary TENEX, in accordance with the results of a competitive selection process, has been supplying enriched uranium product for Laguna Verde, the only nuclear power plant in Mexico. The volume of these supplies fully meets the country's needs. What is more, CFE recently announced it would update its hydroelectrical facilities. As a Russian state corporation, we have strong experience in other traditional forms of power generation, including hydroelectricity and related turbines. Rosatom has also developed wind farms. Therefore, we look forward to any tender processes and will assess our participation when they are published. To this end, we look to establish relationships with local engineering firms and suppliers than can participate with Rosatom and support us in these tenders.
Q: How can Rosatom help Mexico structure an optimal strategy to address dangerous waste?
A: For more than 75 years, our company has developed considerable expertise in the nuclear area. Rosatom’s integrated offer on NPP projects includes both fuel supply and back-end solutions in handling spent nuclear fuel. Our company has various technologies at its disposal that allow recycling and re-using of nuclear waste materials.
When a country decides to produce nuclear power, radioactive waste management becomes a heavily debated topic. This should be addressed appropriately. There are temporary locations available to store spent fuel where it can be kept until it is used again. Afterwards, it is reprocessed. To develop the nuclear industry safely, you need to have access to solutions for spent fuel treatment and nuclear waste management. Countries like Brazil are developing national waste storage facilities. Rosatom successfully operates nuclear waste storage facilities in Russia, and we are ready to provide a proposal to the Mexican government with our expertise in this area.
Q: CFE has shown interest in small nuclear reactors. How could Rosatom apply its experience in this area to the Mexican context?
A: It’s worth mentioning that Rosatom has commissioned a floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) Akademik Lomonosov with SMRs and has a vast experience in operating small modular reactors technologies within the Russian icebreakers. Today, the only commercially operational SMR NPP in the world is Akademik Lomonosov, which has become an efficient and safe reference point for our clients.
FNPPs are particularly interesting for areas that are completely off the grid. Since the reactor is located within a ship vessel, servicing such a remote area becomes easier because you can just move the ship.
We are also planning the construction of the land-based small modular reactor plant (SMR NPP) with a RITM-200N reactor technology in eastern Russia, so we will in the foreseen future have a good case study available in this regard.
We believe in the efficiency of this technology and are open to dialogue on developing this design here in Mexico in the most efficient way possible. Nuclear energy should be safe, socially responsible, cost efficient and productive, and Rosatom can deliver this through its experience and technology.
Q: What are Rosatom’s short-term goals in the Mexican market?
A: Participating in various projects and bids around the Laguna Verde and SMR-based nuclear power plants is interesting. We see great opportunities for SMRs in Mexico, where nuclear energy could be an efficient and “clean’’ power solution. We are already registered as an official CFE supplier and understand these procedures. Furthermore, working along with CFE in their hydroelectricity modernization projects is a great opportunity.
State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM is one the global technological leaders. It is a multi-industry holding comprising assets in power engineering, machine engineering and construction, among others. Having competencies across the entire nuclear fuel cycle, the corporation boasts the largest foreign project portfolio in the world with 35 power units at different stages of implementation in 12 countries.