The share of nuclear energy in the Russian energy balance already exceeds 20%, but Rosatom plans to go even further. The concern has developed an ambitious development plan until 2030, which provides for the construction of low-power nuclear power plants (LNPPs) in Russia and abroad. Experts evaluate the prospects for the industry positively in light of the “green” agenda, but note the high cost of such facilities and long payback periods. Environmentalists, in turn, remember the need to pay special attention to safety at nuclear power plants. Will the nuclear energy industry be able to replace the conventional industry?
Kommersant newspaper, citing sources, reported that Rosatom will soon present to the government a plan for the development of new nuclear technologies until 2030 worth 506 billion rubles, of which 150 billion rubles are allocated to the budget.
The most expensive area of the project – “Small Atom” – involves the development and construction of a line of nuclear power plants (cost 260 billion rubles, of which 39.15 billion rubles are budget funds). By the end of 2028, four floating power units based on RITM-200 reactors (55 MW) will be launched to supply power to Baimsky GOK (Chukotka Autonomous Okrug). At the end of 2030, it is planned to commission the first ground-based nuclear power plant based on the RITM-200N for the gold deposits of Kyushus (Yakutia). By the end of 2030, Rosatom also expects to complete and launch the Shelf M (up to 10 MW) and Elena AM (thermal power 5 Gcal / h, electric power up to 400 kW) pilot plants, which can become power sources for remote regions. from the country.
At the end of last year, the share of nuclear generation in the Unified Power System (UES) of Russia increased to 20.6% from 19.3% in 2019 (excluding electricity generation by Bilibino NPP and floating plants operating in an isolated power system. ). Electricity generation reached 215.74 billion kWh – an absolute record “*banned in the Russian Federation”> mustering in the entire history of the industry. The numbers increased due to the commissioning of a floating station in Chukotka, as well as the connection to the UES of the new power unit No. 6 of the Leningrad NPP with VVER- 1200.
It turns out that every fifth light bulb in the country burns from the energy generated by nuclear power plants. Today, a total of 37 power units with a total capacity of about 29.4 gigawatts are in operation at eleven operating nuclear power plants in Russia.
Rosatom’s plan includes including nuclear energy in the climate agenda (as in China). Experts say that this will allow the company to win the loyalty of foreign buyers.
Rosatom hopes to conclude the first export contract for one SNiP at the end of 2026, and by the end of 2030 for six power units.
Now in the world there are about 70 ASMM projects (up to 300 MW) of varying degrees of readiness, 17 of them are Russian. To date, only one ASMM has been operated in the world – the local floating station “Akademik Lomonosov” (70 MW). Three more facilities are under construction around the world – one in Argentina (30 MW CAREME) and two in China (210 MW HTR-PM and 125 MW ACP100).
“Green” light for nuclear power
Against the background of global trends in the transition to low-carbon development, nuclear energy has gained political support – and now this field is being actively developed in the European Union and the United States. The leaders are China, Russia and India.
Today, due to the publicly stated focus on the “green” agenda, the question of environmentally friendly methods of energy production has become acute. The “Green Square” consists of: hydroelectric, solar, wind, and nuclear energy.
“The sun, air and water cannot provide even half of the energy required. And if you give up the peaceful atom, the shortage must be filled by burning hydrocarbons.– says Natalia Sokolova, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ANO Ravnopravie, member of the State Subcommittee on Chemical Safety.
According to the International Energy Agency, it was nuclear energy that made it possible to avoid emissions of more than 60 billion tons of carbon dioxide harmful to nature and humans over 50 years of use. Natalia Sokolova believes that without this type of energy, emissions from this segment would be 20% higher.
Great hopes rest on small reactors both in Russia and in the world. In addition to environmental friendliness, SNMMs have many other advantages over alternative energy sources.
“It is believed that with their help, nuclear energy will be able to impose more serious competition on other technological solutions in the field of power generation. The fact is that small reactors generally retain the advantages of larger counterparts, but at the same time, their construction projects are characterized by low capital costs and implementation time Less.For example, in small reactors electricity is generated almost continuously and does not depend on weather conditions, and fuel is loaded every few years.Small reactors fit perfectly into the concept of distributed energy, which is actively developing all over the world.In particular, it can be They are used to supply energy and heating for settlements and hard-to-reach production facilities.In addition, small reactors generate low-carbon electricity and objectively correspond to the status of “green” projects.– Comments by Oleg Kolobov, Deputy Head of the Department “Climate and Green Energy” at the Center for Strategic Research.
Small nuclear power plants can be used to provide electricity and heat for isolated settlements and industrial facilities, and can also be used for desalination and water purification. The consumers of ASMM can be different populations and organizations, it is important that there is a stable cash flow from them, so that this generation works efficiently and allows its shareholders to earn. There is a place for ASMM in the world, the potential for this market is great, and the prospects are good, although there are other types of generations. The advantages of such plants are that, unlike other types of generation, they do not produce harmful emissions, and do not require a constant supply of fuel.– explains Dmitry Baranov, the leading expert in Finam Management.
At the same time, experts draw attention to the high cost of building such plants compared to renewable energy sources: “The ASMM market is promising, but the company’s competitiveness in the world will depend on cost reduction (LCOE), which is one of Rosatom’s strategic missions. The cost of electricity (LCOE) for Rosatom’s ASMM projects according to 2016-2017 data. Cost is about 100-120 USD. /MWh and higher: The lower the installation capacity, the higher the cost.Based on this data, the cost of renewable energy can still be really cheaper (up to 2 times).However, the advantage of ASMM is its mobility, rapid deployment and ability to install in remote and isolated areas. In this case, ASMM wins. In addition, when compared with the cost of diesel generator power on imported raw materials in decentralized regions, ASMM electricity looks profitable according to Rosatom itself. “– notes Sergei Jaramita, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank.
Dmitry Baranov agrees with him: The cost of nuclear power plants is significant and required to ensure their absolute safety. The need for significant investments during construction and subsequent operation of nuclear power plants affects the payback period of these projects..
“In fact, in most cases, small reactors have higher specific capital costs per unit of power, when compared to their larger counterparts, and when compared to technological solutions based on renewables and conventional fuels. The task of reducing these shortcomings is a fundamental task for designers of small reactors. “– confirms Oleg Kolobov.
There is no doubt that nuclear power will retain its place in the world among other types of generation, experts assure. Moreover, its share may increase, due to the construction of new nuclear power plants, including ANPP, and due to the decommissioning of heat-generation facilities that do not meet environmental requirements and have reached the end of their life. But environmentalists urge that more attention be paid to the safety of these facilities.
“There is no doubt that the production and transportation of nuclear materials for the National Atomic Energy Agency needs additional technological and environmental safety measures. But the transportation of hydrocarbons is also unsafe. Pipeline accidents, fires in oil depots and oil spills from tankers on the sea surface have very serious consequences for the ecosystem as a whole. At the same time, the volumes of nuclear fuel are incomparably smaller and it is easier to ensure the necessary production control and state supervision. At the same time, it cannot be said that the problem of the accumulation of radioactive waste still exists. This must be systematically addressed at the state level. Now They are trying to solve it with the help of recycling.Modern technologies make it possible to recycle spent nuclear fuel for the nuclear industry.Therefore, in the future, such hazardous waste in the operation of nuclear power plants will be reduced.– explains Natalia Sokolova.
Alexander Fedorov, member of the Public Council of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, deputy head of the Coordination Council for Environmental Protection of the Public Chamber of Russia, is less optimistic: “We keep drowning in nuclear waste, and no one in the world has figured out what to do with it, except to bury it out of sight.”.
Photo: FederalPress / Evgeny Potorochin