Alexander Marten
Rosatom International Network
View from the Top

Russina Nuclear Giant Lends Helping Hand

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 19:05

Q: What are the accomplishments that distinguish Rosatom, bearing in mind it is a leader in its number of nuclear reactors under simultaneous construction globally, and in Uranium reserves and extraction?

A: Rosatom is flexible in its interaction with foreign partners, as it presents integrated solutions. This approach has allowed it to become the leader in the volume of foreign orders that currently consists of 38 projects, 29 of which are at various construction stages around the world. In addition, this pipeline includes contracts in nuclear fuel cycle, NPP service and refurbishment, and equipment supplies, among others. Rosatom has a presence in many countries, from South Africa to India, Bangladesh, Jordan, Algeria, Nigeria, and Egypt. Our competitive advantages lie in the safe and referential technologies, high-end manufacturing facilities, state support, experience, and financial resources, all of which we are ready to share with our partners.

Our integrated solutions include state-of-the-art technologies, modern nuclear fuel supplies, and support in building nuclear infrastructure. It is important to note that we uphold the legal and regulatory foundations of the national authorities in order to provide efficient management and supervision over the appropriate use of nuclear energy. We also have strategies to encourage the popularization of nuclear power, which entail the management of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel management, personnel training, and nuclear education. We are present across the whole value chain from uranium mining to electricity sales and NPP decommissioning. Technology, safety, and reliability rank highly on the list of concerns for countries making a new NPP construction. Our units belong to the modern 3+ generation and their safety systems comply with post- Fukushima requirements that combine both active and passive safety measures.

Q: What role should nuclear play as an substitute for fossil fuels in global efforts to combat climate change?

A: Nuclear technologies have reached a level of advanced development that can compete head on with conventional power generation based on fossil fuels. The price volatility in commodity markets forces countries to search for alternative energy sources and nuclear is a viable option. The share of fuel components in operational costs does not exceed 25% in nuclear, and uranium costs are even lower. This cannot be applied to conventional gas and coal generation where the share of components amounts to 80-90%. The cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity at an APP is the least vulnerable to fluctuations in the commodity market, making it the most predictable. This allows energy players to plan firm electricity tariffs for the medium term.

In terms of resource use, the generation of 1MWh requires approximately 340kg of coal or 210kg of oil, while only 1-3g  of enriched uranium is necessary. Annual operation dictates that a 1,000MW power generation facility will require 24 tonnes of enriched uranium, compared to 1.7 million tonnes of oil, 2.7 million tonnes of coal, or a staggering 2.4 billion m3 of natural gas. In simpler terms, three uranium pellets can replace a whole wagon of coal. NPP can also combat global warming as it does not emit greenhouse gases. In Europe, nuclear has made it possible to limit emissions by 700 million tonnes of CO2 per year and in Russia there are ten NPPs under operation, which prevent emissions of 210 million tonnes. The share of nuclear power in the global energy matrix is expected to increase from the present 11% in the coming decades. Additionally, renewables require a large area to generate a high output, as a 4GW wind farm occupies 207,925 football pitches, while a NPP only needs 287 football pitches.

Q: What overall role do the Latin American markets play within Rosatom’s growth strategy, and what are the biggest areas of opportunity Rosatom wishes to seize?

A: Latin America is one of the main priorities for us in terms of business development and it is not a new market for Rosatom. There are countries like Argentina and Brazil that boast a reactor fleet and are pioneers in the region. In April 2015, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Argentina that determines the basis for cooperation in the construction of Unit Six at the NPP, with a Russian- designed reactor of up to 1,200MW of installed capacity in Argentina. In addition, TVEL, our subsidiary, has signed two Memoranda with the National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina and INVAP state corporation, which detail a wide range of issues from supplies of nuclear fuel cycle products for research reactors to zirconium components and uranium metal. Given the growing demand for nuclear power in the market, Rosatom has opened regional offices in Rio de Janeiro.

Q: What role should nuclear play in Mexico’s energy mix, and what best practices, knowledge, and internationally proven technologies does Rosatom wish to bring to the Mexican energy landscape?

A: When it comes to Mexico, Rosatom is a strategic partner in the development of nuclear technologies that are not limited to the NPP construction based on Russian technologies. We offer integrated solutions that include generation 3+ VVER, flexible financial solutions, and long term support in the operation of the NPP. We can also support the utility with radioactive waste management, personnel training, and nuclear education. We are also interested in developing projects in other business areas of the company, for instance, we see a potential in water desalination, water treatment systems, and research reactors. Rosatom is a major global energy company that sees promising opportunities by cooperating with Mexico.

Q: What are the main areas of opportunity that Rosatom has spotted in Mexico in particular, and how are you planning to seize them?

A: In December 2013, the Cooperation Agreement was signed between the Russian Federation and the Mexican government, detailing the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In July 2015, we received notice from the Mexican government that the Agreement was being enforced. The document highlights the legal foundations for the interaction been Russia and Mexico regarding nuclear power. This includes research, design, construction, operation, decommissioning, human capital training, provision and development of nuclear fuel cycle services, radioisotopes production and application, and even medicine and agriculture. Based on the Agreement, a joint coordination committee will be formed to work out particular key priorities of cooperation. We expect the Mexican government to further develop nuclear power in the country.