maps out plans to revive nuclear power industry
May 4, 2006 - BBC Monitoring Central Asia
Sergey Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, the Russian Federal Agency for
Atomic Energy, has given an exclusive interview to the southern Russian
newspaper during his visit to Russia's only nuclear power station in
Rostov Region's Volgodonsk. Russia's nuclear power sector has
successfully survived the post-Chernobyl decline and is gaining ground,
Kiriyenko said. Another two or even four power units could be built at
the Volgodonsk nuclear power plant in addition to its present two
provided the consent of the local authorities and public, Kiriyenko
said. Attached to the interview is a profile of Southern Federal
District's nuclear industry.
The following is the text of Sergey Kiriyenko's interview published
by Tsiala Tagadryan under the headline "Queuing for atom" in the Russian
independent weekly Yuzhnyy Reporter on 17 April 2006; subheadings have
been inserted editorially:
Plans to build a new nuclear power plant would bring about massive
pickets and protests 20 years ago not only from the population but also
from local authorities. After Chernobyl no-one wanted to develop this
industry at their home. Today, according to Sergey Kiriyenko, head of
Rosatom, the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, the regions are
queuing up for the right to build a four-unit nuclear power plant and
get a big tax payer. Following his visit to the only nuclear power
station in the Southern Federal District [SFD], Sergey Kiriyenko has
given an exclusive interview to Yuzhnyy Reporter.
[Correspondent] How many nuclear power stations does Russia need?
[Kiriyenko] That depends on the general strategy for developing the
energy sector in the state. Nuclear power stations account for 16 per
cent of power production in Russia today. In advanced states possessing
nuclear technologies, the average proportion is 38 per cent, let alone
France having 78 per cent of all its electric power produced by nuclear
power stations. These figures are easy to explain for Europe: the use of
gas-fuelled stations is too costly a pleasure today; it is like burning
bank notes in a stove. In addition, given the warming of climate and the
lessons learned from the tragedies of 20-30 years ago, new-generation
nuclear plants complete with comprehensive safety systems are the safest
facilities in terms of environment.
[Correspondent] Has the industry recovered from the shock caused by
Chernobyl and ensuing standstill?
[Kiriyenko] I do not think it would be possible to overcome its
effects completely. This is a dreadful lesson that we have learned and
drawn our conclusions from. The most important one is that power plants
need new safety requirements. Present-day nuclear power stations combine
systems of active and passive safety. As a rule, they consist of three
or four self-contained channels including ones that do not depend on the
notorious "human factor".
The systems will operate irrespective of whether the station's
operator is doing something or not. As regards people's fears, it is
always a matter of openness and access to information. I am not speaking
about walking around the station. It is no garden but a hi- tech
facility calling for adequate protection systems. Alongside this, the
possibility of external public control may become a most important
factor in terms of people's psychological attitudes.
Nuclear power pros and cons
[Correspondent] It is well-known that southern Russia is short of
power. During your visit to Volgodonsk you spoke about the need to build
the third and fourth units of the local nuclear power station provided
that nothing is done without the go-ahead from the public.
[Kiriyenko] I arrived here with this particular question to ask the
authorities of Rostov Region and Volgodonsk and the public. We have
approved decisions concerning the second unit of the nuclear power
station and we will finish its construction. Russia's government has
instructed the Ministry of Industry and Energy, the Unified Energy
Systems of Russia and Rosatom to submit a master plan by the end of 2006
for the location of generating facilities for the next few years. We
must decide without delay whether we are going to include the third and
the fourth units of the Volgodonsk nuclear power station in that plan.
Indeed, the SFD needs more capacities to ensure its normal
development. The third and fourth units of the power plant are quite
acceptable here. The fifth and sixth units may become a point for
discussion in the future. This can be done at the Volgodonsk nuclear
power station but we need a major consensus: we shall not go against the
regional authorities and the public. The regions are competing for the
right to build such facilities on their territory. They are aware that
one power unit of a nuclear plant stands for a 1.5bn dollar worth of
investments. Derivable from this figure are revenues in income taxes
during the construction and after the launch of the station.
Our four-unit nuclear power stations are the biggest tax payers in
their respective regions.
Should Rostov Region's administration and public say they are not
prepared, we will back down on the issue. Still this does not mean that
we will never build them. Time will put everything in its place. This
matter will be revisited anyway when it comes to a serious shortage of
[Correspondent] What was the authorities' answer?
[Kiriyenko] Let them take their time. I had a talk with the public
and administration of the city and the station and my overall impression
was that their answer is positive: it should be built. I do not want to
hurry people up or take anyone on their word saying that once you said
it, the matter is settled. The Volgodonsk mayor asked me about the form
in which their consent should be laid down. I answered that it would be
best to have it in writing. Then we would include the third and the
fourth power units in our programme. The government would approve that
programme and we would launch work next year.
The work cycle is long. The programme is to go through expert
examination by environmentalists, public hearings and others. Still the
matter should be settled in principle. If I arrive to see a massive
rally at the gate of the station, it is clear without hearings that
people resent nuclear power stations out and out.
Options for production of power plant equipment
[Correspondent] You also said in Volgodonsk that the Atommash plant
[making equipment for nuclear power industry] should be brought back to
life. Is there a shortage of production capacities in the state for
further development of the nuclear power sector?
[Kiriyenko] I could say either yes or no depending on the angle of
view. Speaking about capacities created in the Soviet Union, we had
enough of them. It is a different matter that there was no serious
construction in the nuclear industry during 20 years. The capacities
were embezzled in some places, somewhere the equipment or skills were
lost, or specialization was changed. Our choice today is as follows:
either we start building the lacking facilities anew or it would make
more sense to try and restore the technological complex inherited from
the Soviet Union.
Our programme is designed to allow us enough time to do that. (The
programme is scheduled to take effect in 2007 Yuzhnyy Reporter)
[Correspondent] How long will it take?
[Kiriyenko] Four years or so, given that we also have export
contracts to carry out. We are planning an annual increase of at least 2
GW. Currently available facilities could cope with the task running at
the limit of their capacity. We are now working both within the CIS and
the former Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Our efforts include
uranium extraction in Central Asia, relevant contacts with Ukraine and
Turboatom, the biggest turbine manufacturer, and cooperation with the
nuclear division of Skoda. Still our priority is to rebuild Russian
plants, upgrade them to meet modern quality requirements and provide
them with workload wherever it is possible.
I can understand the Atommash owners' behaviour. Having bought the
plant, I guess they tried to preserve its production. With only one
power unit being built throughout Russia in three years, its capacities
available at that time exceeded the needs of nuclear power industry
tenfold. Therefore Atommash most probably would get none of those
contracts and its owners decided to change its specialization and quit
the nuclear power sector. Probably it was the right thing to do at that
time: they had to pay wages to people and keep the plant afloat.
The situation is different today. The state is commissioning
large-scale nuclear construction. The plant management and Rostov
Region's administration should decide on the following: if the plant can
and wants to return to the nuclear power industry, we are ready to
discuss the matter. We can also promote the process by making direct
contracts with Atommash, creating a joint venture and singling out its
nuclear division. Any forms would be acceptable.
Should this be impossible or they are unwilling, then we will try to
find other solutions. In the final account we can build up capacities at
Izhora and other plants instead of Atommash in the SFD. Capacities could
be increased at any of them but Atommash was specifically designed to
work for the nuclear power production.
Southern Russia's nuclear industry profiled
The United Energy Systems South [OES Yug] has an annual shortage of
electrical power exceeding 5.3bn KWh which is covered by transfer of
power from the United Energy Systems Centre.
The SFD's major power producers are the following companies:
- FGUP [federal state unitary enterprise] Rosenergoatom which runs
the Volgodonsk nuclear power station;
- OAO OGK-2 [the second regional generating open joint stock company]
running Stavropol's hydropower plant; its capacity is 2,400 MW);
- OAO OGK-5 (hydropower plant in Nevinnomyssk; 1,290 MW);
- OAO OGK-6 (hydropower plant in Novocherkassk; 2,112 MW).
Another large supplier of electric power in southern Russia is OAO
TGK-8 comprising six branches in Rostov-na-Donu, Volgograd, Stavropol,
Astrakhan and Dagestan. The TGK-8 joint stock company's power plants
have an installed capacity of 2,536 MW. Southern Russia also receives
electricity generated by hydropower plants that belong to the joint
stock company OAO UK GidroOGK.
Volgograd Region: Volzhskaya GES [hydropower plant in Volzhskiy]
having an output of 2,541 MW.
North Ossetia: The construction of Zaramagskiy cascade of hydropower
plants is to be completed in 2006 and their capacity will reach 352 MW.
Karachay-Cherkessia: the Zelenchukskiy GES plants comprising two
hydropower units each having an installed capacity of 80 MW. Facilities
of the third complex have been under construction since 2005. They are
expected to increase their output to 320 MW.
In addition, the UK GidroOGK has two small hydropower plants in
Kabarda-Balkaria: Akbashskaya GES (1.1 MW) and Malaya GES-3 (3.75 MW).
The company is completing the construction of Irganayskaya GES. Its
currently available output of 400 MW will double. It is planning to
start the construction of Gotsatlinskaya GES. Both hydropower plants are
In Stavropol Territory UK GidroOGK controls hydropower plants of the
Stavropol Electric Generating Company having an aggregate installed
capacity of 462.4 MW.
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