On russian nuclear energy initiatives for the Asia-Pacific

Rosatom claims the integrated services as the main competitive advantage
Project of NPP "Ninthuan-1" Project of NPP "Ninthuan-1"

This report has been addressed to the International Conference ”Peacebuilding in the North-East Asia and Russian Federation - Republic of Korea Cooperation” (Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, July,15,2015).

Following is the summary of the report.

Nowadays, Russia is the global leader in the number of nuclear energy blocks under commissioning abroad. The state company Rosatom has been building 18 nuclear power blocks. The high competitiveness is based upon sophisticated modern technologies, all projects meet IAAE requirements. The most popular export product is 3rd generation light water reactor. The gross sum of contracts in 2014 exceeded 100 billion USD and demand tends to grow up as there is an evident need for reliable source of alternative energy among developing countries. Asia Pacific or even broader Indo-Pacific reckon on rising economies as the main source of sustainable growth.

Rosatom claims the integrated services as the main competitive advantage. It includes building plant and grids, training personnel, regular security check and complex maintenance. The cooperation with nuclear newcomers is encouraged strongly according to the international principles of the equal access to atomic energy.

Special company Atomstroyexport is delegated to be responsible for all the construction activities abroad. Technology integrator is Rusatom Overseas that promotes Russian integrated offers for developing international projects using the scheme build-own-operate.

After Fukushima accident the world faced the threat of sea water contamination. Russian scientists in collaboration with Germans and Japanese colleagues presented innovative unique sorbent material able to annihilate isotopes in the sea environment. Now this technology is ready for exporting.

One of the famous Russian projects in Asia is Kudankulam Power Plant in India. Preliminary agreement was signed in 1988, additional in 1998. However the first line was switched to the national grid in 2013 and is the most powerful and advanced. The second block is expected to be operational till the end of 2015. In the spring of 2014 Russia and India signed a contract on the 3rd and the 4th lines of Kudankulam Power Plant.

In Vietnam Russia constructs Ninh Thuan Power Plant of 2 blocks with 2 reactors each. The most notable in this project that it is sponsored by Russian government by a special loan given in 2011.  The contract presumes establishment and development of the nuclear scientific center in Vietnam. Some specialists are to study in the Far Eastern Federal University starting this year.

Two blocks plant also to be constructed in Bangladesh near Ruppur settlement (160 km from Dhaka). The intergovernmental agreement was reached in 2011 and 2013 became the year of the launching construction. This project is supported by Russian credit as well.

Some feasible prospects Rosatom has in Latin America – Argentine examines possibility of constructing Russian design reactors in addition to initially agreed hydro-plant.

One of the most ambitious initiatives on atomic energy implementing by Rosatom is Tianwan Power Plant near Lianyonggang, PRC. There are planned to enter service 4 blocks with sophisticated security system (so called melt-down trap). Two reactors started working in 2007 and the second line is being constructed now. There were rumors that Chinese side won’t prolong the project as they insisted on technology transfer however Russian side had rejected that term. Actually the situation on the 5th and the 6th reactors isn’t clear, the construction is frozen as China wanted to implement national technologies those turned to be raw and insecure. Notwithstanding, Rosatom holds negotiations on starting construction of atomic power plant near Harbing in north-eastern Heilongjiang province. Chinese customers are also seriously interested in developing joint projects of floating power plants especially for using in Arctic.

Setting China in the focus – there are some expert assessment that PRC can position itself as a nuclear reactors exporter. As a matter of fact, they have American and French design reactors and copy it without permission. Contemporary China poses a minimal threat to atomic energy world market as national products are underdeveloped. But we should notice that some units up to 2020 will be ready for exporting especially to not so wealthy and demanding in terms of security standards countries like Pakistan.

One of the most challenging issues is the DPRK nuclear program, including peaceful energy component.  There were several projects in 1990s and early 2000s on constructing LWR in DPRK or in adjacent Khasan area. However after Pyongyang broke the Non-Proliferation Treaty and started military nuclear program all the plans were finally ruined.  Today Moscow’s official position on DPRK energy program is rather strict – the only way to cooperate is rejoining the NPT and adopting IAAE guarantees. If earlier there was a chance for DPRK to obtain new nuclear power plants either from the USA under the framework agreement or from China as a sort of economic assistance, it seems to be fantastic now. More or less, Russia suggested rather promising initiative to construct electric grids through the Korean Peninsula as the energy can be generated in hydro-plants in Siberia and Far East. This project is far less expensive and risky in comparison with oil and gas pipeline Trans-Korean transportation system.

Surprisingly, in Republic of Korea where 35% of total energy output is generated by nuclear plants, is an evident lack of Russian presence. In 2011 Rosatom and KONEPA (Korean Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency) sealed a memorandum on cooperation though aimed on bettering image of the peaceful nuclear. In 2013 Korean Ministry of Science and Innovation and Rosatom claimed 17 joint initiatives in nuclear sphere including programs on processing radiated fuel, radiation security, nuclear synthesis, establishing research center on radiation issues etc. Taking into consideration contemporary Russian-Korean motives for cooperation, Russian experience and Korean demand the nuclear specter is rather promising for both countries. Probably, DPRK can be involved partially if Pyongyang meets international law requirements and choose the peaceful way of development.

nuclear energy Rosatom Asia