RUSSIAN NUCLEAR POWER - 2017
WNA - Nuclear Power in Russia
- Russia is moving steadily forward with plans for an expanded role of nuclear energy, including development of new reactor technology.
- It is committed to closing the fuel cycle, and sees fast reactors as a key to this.
- Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction. Foreign orders totalled $133 billion at the end of 2016.
- Russia is a world leader in fast neutron reactor technology and is consolidating this through its Proryv('Breakthrough') project.
Russia's first nuclear power plant, and the first in the world to produce electricity, was the 5 MWe Obninsk reactor, in 1954. Russia's first two commercial-scale nuclear power plants started up in 1963-64, then in 1971-73 the first of today's production models were commissioned. By the mid-1980s Russia had 25 power reactors in operation, but the nuclear industry was beset by problems. The Chernobyl accident led to a resolution of these, as outlined in the Appendix.
Rosenergoatom is the only Russian utility operating nuclear power plants. Its ten nuclear plants have the status of branches. It was established in 1992 and was reconstituted as a utility in 2001, as a division of SC Rosatom.
Between the 1986 Chernobyl accident and mid-1990s, only one nuclear power station was commissioned in Russia, the four-unit Balakovo, with unit 3 being added to Smolensk. Economic reforms following the collapse of the Soviet Union meant an acute shortage of funds for nuclear developments, and a number of projects were stalled. But by the late 1990s exports of reactors to Iran, China and India were negotiated and Russia's stalled domestic construction program was revived as far as funds allowed.
Around 2000, nuclear construction revived and Rostov 1 (also known as Volgodonsk 1), the first of the delayed units, started up in 2001, joining 21 GWe already on the grid. This greatly boosted morale in the Russian nuclear industry. It was followed by Kalinin 3 in 2004, Rostov 2 in 2010 and Kalinin 4 in 2011.
By 2006 the government's resolve to develop nuclear power had firmed and there were projections of adding 2-3 GWe per year to 2030 in Russia as well as exporting plants to meet world demand for some 300 GWe of new nuclear capacity in that timeframe. Early in 2016 Rosatom said that Russia’s GDP gained three roubles for every one rouble invested in building nuclear power plants domestically, as well as enhanced “socio-economic development of the country as a whole.”
However, early in 2017 the CEO of Rosatom said that the government would end state support for the construction of new nuclear units in 2020, and so Rosatom must learn to earn money on its own, primarily via commercial nuclear energy projects in the international market. He said that Rosatom had come from being a consortium of unprofitable, separately-run businesses a decade ago to a vertically-integrated state corporation with improved strategies and financial performance, thanks in part to a "large-scale" program of state funding. “In this situation … we must learn how to earn money independently,” especially in the world market. “Optimisation of the management system should become the main theme of 2017.”
In February 2010 the government approved the federal target program designed to bring a new technology platform for the nuclear power industry based on fast reactors. In June 2010 the government approved plans for 173 GWe of new generating capacity by 2030, 43.4 GWe of this being nuclear. However, by January 2015 this domestic 2030 nuclear target had halved. Nevertheless Rosatom said that it had reduced the cost of electricity production at nuclear power plants by 36% over 2011 to 2017.
Rosatom's current long-term strategy up to 2050 involves moving to inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle, especially under the Proryv (Breakthrough) project. It envisages nuclear providing 45-50% of electricity at that time, with the share rising to 70-80% by the end of the century. The ultimate aim of the closed fuel cycle is to eliminate the production of radioactive waste from power generation. Early in 2017 the CEO of Rosatom said: "We took a punt on the Breakthrough project, on fast reactor technologies, and today we are leading in this field. It's necessary to make this leadership absolute and to deprive our competitors of their hopes of overcoming the gap in the technological race."
Apart from adding capacity, utilisation of existing plants has improved markedly since 2000. In the 1990s capacity factors averaged around 60%, but they have steadily improved since and in 2010, 2011 and 2014 were above 81%. Balakovo was the best plant in 2011 with 92.5%, and again in 2014 with 85.1%.
Present nuclear capacity
Russia's nuclear plants, with 35 operating reactors totalling 26,983 MWe, comprise:
- 3 early VVER-440/230 or similar pressurised water reactors.
- 2 later VVER-440/213 pressurised water reactors.
- 12 current-generation VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors with a full containment structure, mostly V-320 types.
- One new-generation VVER-1200 reactor.
- 13 RBMK light water graphite reactors (LWGR) now unique to Russia. The four oldest of these were commissioned in the 1970s at Kursk and Leningrad and are of some concern to the Western world.
- 4 small graphite-moderated BWR reactors in eastern Siberia, constructed in the 1970s for cogeneration (EGP-6 models on linked map) and due to be decommissioned by 2022.
- One BN-600 fast neutron reactor and one BN-800.
Apart from Bilibino, several reactors supply district heating – a total of over 11 PJ/yr.
Power reactors in operation
|Licensed to, or
|Beloyarsk 3||BN-600 FBR||560||11/81||2025|
|Beloyarsk 4||BN-800 FBR||789||10/16||2056|
|Bilibino 1-4||LWGR EGP-6||11||4/74-1/77||Dec 2018, Dec 2021|
|Novovoronezh 5||V-187||950||2/81||2035 potential|
|Total: 35||26,865 MWe|
V-320 is the base model of what is generically VVER-1000; V-230 and V-213 are generically VVER-440; V-179 & V-187 are prototypes. Rostov was formerly sometimes known as Volgodonsk. Most closure dates are from January 2015 'roadmap' unless licence extension indicates later date. Many reactors have been uprated but current net capacities are mostly unknown. At the end of 2016 all 11 VVER-1000 reactors were operating at 104% of original capacity.
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