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Jan 16, 2022
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Nuclear power will be the core of the new energy order

Nearly a year ago, FGC published an article “An almost ideal solution to the energy problem”, under which we saw nuclear energy. This is a truly clean energy, in the normal mode it is absolutely environmentally friendly, with a zero level of harmful impact on the environment and relatively inexpensive.

The energy resources available on Earth in sufficient quantities (uranium) and the development of fast neutron reactors (industrial installations are already operating in Russia) open up the prospect of making the atom an inexhaustible source of energy at the current level of technology development.

However, classical greens are even more repulsed by nuclear energy than carbon. This rejection is fueled by a banal phobia caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents that occurred at the first generation nuclear power plants designed and built in the 1960s and early 1970s. Now generation 3+ nuclear power plants are being built, the fourth generation is on the way, and this is a completely different level of safety and technical excellence.

Latvia accused Russia of

We wrote: “Common sense, cleansed of hysterics, suggests an almost ideal solution to the energy problem facing humanity. Only nuclear power can be an uninterrupted source of energy and serve the purposes of preserving the planet’s climate. If not everywhere, then in many countries skepticism and fear of the peaceful atom will decrease, more and more governments will launch new projects in this industry.”

And so, as it became known, the European Commission approved the classification of clean energy sources, and in the next six months it is likely to come into force. Both the atom and the gas got there. So, from the most “dirty” straight to the “green”!

EU countries will be allowed to operate existing nuclear power plants as long as they ensure the disposal of toxic waste without harming the environment. And new stations will be considered clean energy sources if their construction is approved before 2045.

The reason for such a sharp turn was the energy crisis. After all, the shortage of energy sources and their high cost (and this is an incurable disease of “alternative energy”, as well as its dependence on weather conditions) significantly reduce the competitiveness of countries that have relied on “alternative” and inevitably lead to a decrease in the standard of living of the population.

It is clarified that the decision adopted by the European Commission is a temporary measure, they say, “while renewable energy sources are not available in sufficient quantities and on an industrial scale”, while the strategic goal of a complete “energy transition” to such sources remains unchanged. However, this is exactly the case when there is nothing more permanent than temporary. The problem is that in Europe, alternative energy sources have reached the limit in their development – almost all available territories and even water areas adjacent to the continent are already occupied by them, and their share in the energy balance creates a critical dependence on the unpredictable nature of their work.

For Russia, the decision taken by the European Commission opens up great prospects. During the years of the “disgrace” of nuclear energy, only Russia and, perhaps, China, continued to build new reactors and develop appropriate technologies. For two other key players in the nuclear energy market, the French and the American Westinghouse, a twenty-year break meant very serious consequences and led to a significant loss of competencies. The reactors they are building today in “test” volumes (2-3 units) are faced with constant postponements of commissioning dates and rising construction costs up to the closure of projects.

But over the past ten years, Rosatom has built 9 million-plus units in the Russian Federation and 8 outside it, plus today, at various stages, contracts are being implemented for the construction of 28 units in Russia, Belarus, China, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey, Hungary, Finland , Iran. Not far from the fact that the countries of the European Union will line up for Russian reactors.

Moreover, Rosatom has not only stationary reactors. Russia is the only country that owns the technology of floating nuclear power plants. It is also the undisputed leader in the development and operation of fast neutron reactors. Only on the stocks of depleted uranium accumulated in the world, excluding spent nuclear fuel, fast neutron reactors make it possible to provide the current level of world energy consumption for more than 300 years. The production of the so-called MOL fuel, from a mixture of uranium and plutonium, has been mastered, which, apart from Russia, can only be done on an industrial scale by France.

In 2021, Rosatom completed the creation of its production of nuclear fuel “TVS-Kvadrat” for power reactors of Western design PWR. It becomes possible to meet the needs of foreign customers in commercial volumes.

In 2020, an experimental batch of TVS-Kvadrat fuel completed its operation cycle at power unit No. 3 of the Ringhals NPP in Sweden and was sent to the local research center Studsvik for post-irradiation studies, the main phase of which was completed in autumn 2021. Studies have confirmed the declared characteristics of Russian fuel for PWR reactors (and this is in “unfriendly” Sweden, where the Westinghouse plant for the production of fuel assemblies is located).

The construction of the BREST-OD-300 experimental reactor has begun, in which a closed cycle for the production of new fuel from spent waste will be tested.

Finally, Rosatom has developed and implemented a unique technology for the so-called reactor annealing, which makes it possible to extend its service life by more than 20 years. So far, it is used only at Russian VVER-type reactors, but if there is demand, it can be finalized for Western-type reactors.

All this, as they say, is a topic for many hundreds of billions. According to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, by 2030 only 50 billion euros need to be invested in existing nuclear power plants. Another 500 billion euros of investments will be required until 2050 for new generation reactors. And this is only in the European Union.

Apparently, it is nuclear energy, and not the advertised “alternative sources”, that will become the core of the new energy order.

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