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Page added on October 31, 2007

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Nuclear Renaissance In Russia?

Russia, the world’s second nuclear power, has long had an active nuclear-energy industry, including exporting reactors to countries such as India and Iran. Yet until recently, the Kremlin devoted far less attention to nuclear energy than to the country’s massive and profitable oil and natural-gas industries. In 2005, President Vladimir Putin indicated his interest in the sector by appointing former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko to head Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom).


Kiriyenko has called for a significant increase in the share of nuclear power in Russia’s electricity generation–partly to free up gas for profitable exports.
He proposed doing this by adding 40 reactors to Russia’s 31 existing plants by 2030 and by raising the share of nuclear energy in generating electric power from 17% to 25%.


Russia is also currently developing an innovative prototype of a floating nuclear-power reactor.


Moscow has long provided all the services needed to make nuclear fuel. Its companies specialize in converting uranium into uranium hexafluoride–the feedstock for enrichment (Rosatom); enrichment (Tenex); and fuel fabrication (TVEL).


Since 1992, a “megatons to megawatts” program with the U.S. government and the U.S. Enrichment Corp. (USEC) has allowed for the down-blending of former Russian weapons-grade uranium to supply about half the fuel needed for U.S. reactors. However, the “suspension agreement” was put in place after the U.S. Commerce Department found the former Soviet Union to be dumping low-enriched uranium (LEU) in the U.S. market. Other Russian nuclear imports have been subject to prohibitive 112% duties.


Kiriyenko has been positioning Russian fuel-services companies to benefit if global use of nuclear power grows significantly. The proclaimed goal is to capture 20% of the world market.

Forbes



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