Russia Sees Nuclear Renaissance
June 7, 2007 (LPAC) – "We are talking about a nuclear renaissance," Sergeo Shmatko, head of Russia's Atomstroyexport, said in an interview from Moscow, published today in the International Herald Tribune. "We are certain we have a market…. The world has no alternative but to develop nuclear energy." The IHT also quotes Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov saying on floating nuclear plants: "We are, generally speaking, the absolute monopoly here. Nobody apart from us is able or knows how to build them."
Atomstroyexport, Russia's state nuclear power company, is already building seven plants, in China, Iran, Bulgaria, and India, more ongoing projects than any other company, including Westinghouse, GE, Siemens of Germany or Areva of France.
The Russians think that the world is headed for another "boom cycle" for nuclear construction, like the 1960s and 1970s, IHT reporter Andrew E. Kramer reported. Now 26 plants are being constructed worldwide, but only two in developed countries, Finland and Japan. However, U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute Official Steve Kereks, said that he expects that U.S. utilities will build 30 new reactors over the next two decades.
For Russia, Atomstroyexport hopes to win $5-$10 billion worth of contracts in the next two years, Shatko said. It has made many engineering advances since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. The plant now coming on line in Tianwan, China, is the first in the world to use a "core catcher" a technology designed to seal off the core, in case of meltdown. Also, Atomstroyexport has a new line of "mini reactors," specifically designed to be connected to the limited capacities of electricity grids in developing countries. These will be in the 300-600 megawatt range. Russia is now creating an entire new system to develop nuclear energy, including providing nuclear fuel supplies, tied to nuclear plant construction, and finally storing of spent fuel.