Russia’s Groundbreaking Advances in Nuclear Technology: A Blueprint for Global Energy Independence

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Russia possesses unique nuclear technologies which can be found nowhere else in the world, the president of the Moscow-based Kurchatov Institute research center, Mikhail Kovalchuk, said on Wednesday. This statement highlights the cutting-edge advancements Russian scientists have achieved, positioning the country at the forefront of nuclear technology. These innovations are not merely incremental improvements but represent a significant leap toward establishing a new energy system that promises to secure Russia’s technological independence and energy security for decades to come.

The Kurchatov Institute, a leading research center in Moscow, has been instrumental in developing these groundbreaking nuclear technologies. Under the leadership of Mikhail Kovalchuk, the institute has leveraged the extensive experience and expertise of domestic science, building on decades of research and development. This foundation has enabled the creation of unique nuclear technologies that are unmatched globally.

One of the most significant advancements made by Russian scientists is the development of a closed-cycle green nuclear energy system. This system is designed to be sustainable, minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency. At its core, the closed-cycle approach involves recycling nuclear fuel, significantly reducing the need for fresh uranium and decreasing radioactive waste. This innovation addresses one of the most pressing concerns associated with nuclear energy: the disposal of nuclear waste.

“At this stage, almost all the basic elements have been tested. They proved the correctness and effectiveness of the decisions that were made,” Kovalchuk said. This statement underscores the thorough testing and validation processes that have been conducted to ensure the reliability and safety of these new technologies. The successful testing of these elements marks a crucial milestone in the journey toward a fully operational closed-cycle nuclear energy system.

The significance of these advancements extends beyond Russia’s borders. The global energy landscape is undergoing a rapid transformation, driven by the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. As countries worldwide seek sustainable energy solutions, Russia’s pioneering work in nuclear technology offers a viable pathway to achieving these goals. The closed-cycle green nuclear energy system presents a model that other nations can adopt, fostering international collaboration in the pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable future.

The development of unique nuclear technologies is not an isolated achievement but part of a broader strategy to enhance Russia’s energy security. By reducing reliance on imported energy resources and increasing the efficiency of domestic energy production, Russia is positioning itself as a leader in the global energy market. This strategic approach ensures that the country can meet its energy needs independently, even in the face of geopolitical challenges and fluctuating global energy prices.

Furthermore, the advancements in nuclear technology have significant implications for Russia’s technological independence. The ability to develop and implement cutting-edge nuclear technologies domestically reduces dependence on foreign technology and expertise. This self-reliance is crucial in an increasingly interconnected world, where technological prowess is a key determinant of national security and economic prosperity.

The achievements of Russian scientists in the field of nuclear technology are a testament to the country’s long-standing tradition of scientific excellence. Building on a rich history of innovation in nuclear research, Russia continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, setting new standards for the global scientific community. The collaborative efforts of researchers, engineers, and policymakers have been instrumental in driving these advancements, showcasing the power of teamwork and collective vision.

As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and energy security, Russia’s contributions to nuclear technology offer a beacon of hope. The development of sustainable, closed-cycle nuclear energy systems represents a significant step forward in the quest for clean energy. By sharing its knowledge and expertise with the global community, Russia can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of energy, ensuring a safer, more sustainable world for generations to come.

The advancements in nuclear technology spearheaded by the Kurchatov Institute under the leadership of Mikhail Kovalchuk highlight Russia’s unparalleled capabilities in this field. The successful development and testing of a closed-cycle green nuclear energy system mark a significant milestone in the journey toward energy independence and sustainability. As the global energy landscape evolves, Russia’s pioneering work in nuclear technology positions the country as a leader and a key player in the pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable future.


The Kurchatov Institute in Moscow has made significant strides in developing a closed-cycle green nuclear energy system, a groundbreaking advancement in nuclear technology. This system aims to enhance sustainability by minimizing waste and maximizing efficiency through the recycling of nuclear fuel. Here’s a detailed overview of the technical data, capabilities, and specifications of this innovative technology based on the latest information:

Technical Data and Capabilities:

Closed-Cycle System:

  • Fuel Recycling: The system recycles spent nuclear fuel, reducing the need for fresh uranium and significantly decreasing radioactive waste.
  • Sustainability: By reprocessing spent fuel, the system addresses one of the main challenges of nuclear energy—nuclear waste disposal.

Fast Reactors:

  • BN-1200 and BREST Reactors: These reactors are pivotal in the closed fuel cycle, designed to efficiently utilize plutonium and minimize high-level waste.
  • Reactor Specifications:
    • BN-1200: Sodium-cooled fast reactor with a thermal capacity of 2900 MWt and an electric capacity of 1220 MWe.
    • BREST-OD-300: Lead-cooled fast reactor with a thermal capacity of 700 MWt and an electric capacity of 300 MWe.

Advanced Fuel Types:

  • Mixed Uranium-Plutonium Nitride Fuel: Chosen for its efficiency in fast reactors, this fuel type helps close the nuclear fuel cycle and enhances safety and resource utilization.

Technical Parameters:

  • Supercritical Coolant Parameters: The VVER-SKD reactor operates with supercritical coolant parameters, enhancing efficiency and safety.
  • Efficiency: The closed-cycle system boasts higher efficiency compared to traditional nuclear reactors due to its fuel recycling capabilities.

Waste Management:

  • Reduced High-Level Waste: By reprocessing spent fuel, the system reduces the volume and toxicity of high-level radioactive waste.
  • AIROX Reprocessing: An advanced method involving pyrochemical and hydrometallurgical processes to reprocess fuel efficiently.

    Detailed Scheme Table:

    ParameterBN-1200BREST-OD-300VVER-SKD
    Thermal Capacity (MWt)2900700
    Electric Capacity (MWe)1220300
    CoolantSodiumLeadSupercritical Water
    Fuel TypeMixed U-Pu NitrideMixed U-Pu NitrideUranium-Plutonium Oxide
    Fuel CycleClosedClosedClosed
    Waste ReductionHighHighHigh
    Reprocessing MethodAIROXAIROXAIROX
    EfficiencyHighHighHigh
    Deployment StageOperational/DevelopmentDevelopmentResearch
    Main BenefitReduced Waste, EfficiencySustainability, EfficiencyEfficiency, Safety

    Expanding Nuclear Energy in Russia: A Comprehensive Overview

    Russia is advancing steadily with ambitious plans to expand its nuclear energy capabilities, aiming to develop new reactor technology and establish itself as a global leader in the nuclear sector. Central to Russia’s strategy is the commitment to closing the nuclear fuel cycle, with a particular focus on fast neutron reactors, which are seen as a key component of this vision. This article delves into the intricate details of Russia’s nuclear energy program, exploring its current status, historical context, technological advancements, and future projections, while also examining the broader economic and policy implications.

    As of March 2024, Russia has 36 operable nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 26,802 MWe. These reactors are complemented by an additional four reactors under construction, which will add 3,702 MWe to the grid upon completion. However, the country also has 11 reactors that have been shut down, representing a capacity of 4,882 MWe. This dynamic landscape underscores Russia’s ongoing efforts to both modernize and expand its nuclear energy infrastructure.

    In 2021, the total electricity generation in Russia was 1159 TWh, with nuclear power contributing 223 TWh, or 19% of the total. The generation mix also included natural gas (44%), hydro (19%), coal (16%), oil (7%), biofuels and waste, wind, and solar. Despite the global trend towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar, Russia remains steadfast in prioritizing nuclear energy as a cornerstone of its electricity generation strategy. This focus on nuclear power is driven by several factors, including energy security, economic benefits, and technological leadership.

    CategoryDescriptionValue
    Operable ReactorsNumber of Operable Reactors36
    Total Capacity26,802 MWe
    Reactors Under ConstructionNumber of Reactors4
    Total Capacity3,702 MWe
    Shutdown ReactorsNumber of Reactors11
    Total Capacity4,882 MWe
    Operable Nuclear Power CapacityTotal Electricity Generation (2021)1159 TWh
    Generation MixNatural Gas514 TWh (44%)
    Nuclear223 TWh (19%)
    Hydro216 TWh (19%)
    Coal187 TWh (16%)
    Oil8.5 TWh (7%)
    Biofuels & Waste4.0 TWh
    Wind3.3 TWh
    Solar2.2 TWh
    Import/Export BalanceNet Export21.3 TWh
    Imports1.6 TWh
    Exports22.9 TWh
    Total Electricity ConsumptionConsumption808 TWh
    Per Capita Consumption5600 kWh
    Policy and Economic ObjectivesExport Orders (Late 2017)$133 billion
    Nuclear Goods and ServicesMajor policy objective
    Fast Neutron Reactor TechnologyProryv project
    Planned Nuclear CapacityNew Capacity by 202083 GWe (10 GWe nuclear)
    New Capacity by 203044 GWe nuclear
    Historical Nuclear Production2009 Production163 TWh
    2018 ProductionOver 200 TWh
    Hydro-Electric Capacity PlansIncrease by 202060%
    Double by 2030Target
    Note: This table compiles and updates all relevant data and technical information about Russia’s nuclear power as of the latest available data in 2024. The values are subject to change based on new developments and additional data sources.

    Present nuclear capacity

    Power reactors in operation

    ReactorType
    V=PWR
    MWe net,
    each
    Commercial
    operation
    Licensed to, or
    scheduled close
    Akademik Lomonosov 1KLT-40S3205/202029
    Akademik Lomonosov 2KLT-40S3205/202029
    Balakovo 1V-3209505/862045
    Balakovo 2V-3209501/882043
    Balakovo 3V-3209504/892048
    Balakovo 4V-32095012/932053
    Beloyarsk 3BN-600 (FBR)56011/812030
    Beloyarsk 4BN-800 (FBR)82010/162056
    Bilibino 2-4EGP-6 (LWGR)3 x 1112/74-1/77Dec 2021; unit 2: 2025
    Kalinin 1V-3389506/852045
    Kalinin 2V-3389503/872047
    Kalinin 3V-32095011/20052065
    Kalinin 4V-3209509/20122072
    Kola 1V-23041112/732033
    Kola 2V-2304112/752034
    Kola 3V-21341112/842027
    Kola 4V-21341112/842029
    Kursk 3RBMK9253/842029
    Kursk 4RBMK9252/862031
    Leningrad 3RBMK9256/802025
    Leningrad 4RBMK9258/812026
    Leningrad II-1V-491110110/20182078
    Leningrad II-2V-491110103/20212079
    Novovoronezh 4V-1793853/732032
    Novovoronezh 5V-1879502/812035 potential
    Novovoronezh II-1*V-392M110010/20182077
    Novovoronezh II-2*V-392M110103/20212077
    Rostov 1V-3209893/20012031
    Rostov 2V-32095010/20102040
    Rostov 3V-3209509/20152045
    Rostov 4V-3209799/20182048
    Smolensk 1RBMK9259/832028
    Smolensk 2RBMK9257/852030
    Smolensk 3RBMK9251/902034
    Total: 36 26,802 MWe

    Historically, Russia’s electricity supply was centrally controlled by RAO Unified Energy System (UES), but the sector faced several challenges in the early 2010s. Demand for electricity surged after a decade of stagnation, and many generating plants, particularly in the European part of Russia, were nearing the end of their design lifetimes. Additionally, Gazprom reduced its high level of natural gas supplies for electricity generation, opting instead to capitalize on lucrative export markets in Europe. These constraints necessitated significant reforms and investments in the energy sector.

    By 2020, UES had aimed to reduce the reliance on natural gas for electricity generation, with plans to halve the gas consumption by then. However, regional grid constraints meant that some plants could not operate at full capacity. The privatization of non-nuclear generators, such as OGK-4 and OGK-5, introduced new dynamics into the sector, with companies like E.ON and Enel acquiring significant stakes. Gazprom and Inter RAO also played major roles in the ownership and operation of various generating companies.

    Rosenergoatom, established as the sole nuclear utility in 2001, has been pivotal in Russia’s nuclear energy strategy. Nuclear electricity production increased from 163 TWh in 2009 to over 200 TWh in 2018, driven by improved performance and higher capacity factors of existing plants. The Russian government initially set ambitious targets for nuclear energy, aiming for 23% of electricity to be generated from nuclear power by 2020 and 25% by 2030. However, subsequent plans scaled back these targets, reflecting a more tempered approach to expansion.

    In July 2012, the Energy Ministry (Minenergo) released draft plans to commission 83 GWe of new capacity by 2020, including 10 GWe of nuclear capacity. This plan envisioned a total nuclear capacity of 30.5 GWe, generating 238 TWh annually. However, these projections were later revised, with the 2019 target reduced to 28.26 GWe. Total investment for these initiatives was estimated at RUR 8230 billion, covering power plant upgrades, new grid capacity, and nuclear developments.

    The Ministry of Economic Development announced significant delays in commissioning new nuclear plants in May 2015, citing an energy surplus. This led to the postponement of projects like the new Leningrad and Novovoronezh units, as well as the Smolensk II plant. Despite these setbacks, Rosatom projected the commissioning of 15 additional reactors, totaling 18.6 GWe, by 2030. This would increase Russia’s nuclear capacity to 44 GWe, assuming no retirements of existing reactors.

    Plant NameUnitReactor TypeUpgrade DetailsOperating Lifetime ExtensionMajor Overhauls and InvestmentsFuel DetailsAdditional Information
    BalakovoAll unitsV-3204% power increase approved, major overhauls since 201260 yearsUnit 1: RUR 9 billion, 30-year extension (2015); All units uprated to 104% with 18-month refuel cycleREMIX fuel trial assemblies in unit 3 (successful trial announced 2021)First Russian unit to receive a 30-year extension; assemblies to be examined in detail around 2023 once cooled and less radioactive
    Beloyarsk3BN-600 fast neutron reactorUpgraded for 15-year extension (to 2025), licensed to 2030, ongoing upgrades for extension to 20402030, aiming for 2040Produced 114 TWh over 30 years (to late 2011) with 76% capacity factor, fuel burn-up increased from 7% to 11.4%Provides heat for Zarechny town, electricity from three 200 MWe turbines
    Beloyarsk4BN-800 fast neutron reactorDelayed start due to funding, criticality in June 2014, online with grid connection December 2015Total construction cost: RUR 145.6 billion ($2.3 billion), entered commercial operation October 2016Produced 13.7 TWh in first 36 months
    Beloyarsk5BN-1200Included in Regional Energy Planning Scheme (Nov 2013), confirmed in government decree (Aug 2016)Detailed information in Transition to Fast Reactors and Reactor Technology sections below
    Bilibino1-4EGP-6 light water graphiteUnit 1 shut down in 2018; unit 2 licence extended to 2025; unclear status of units 3&4 (March 2022)Decommissioning of unit 1 began January 2019
    Kalinin1Major overhaul in 2012, power uprate, undergoing tests at 104% (2013), ten-year extension to mid-202560 years
    Kalinin2Major overhaul to 2016, licence extension to 203860 years
    Kalinin3Officially approved for overhaul and uprate (June 2019)60 years
    Kalinin4V-320Built by Nizhny-Novgorod Atomenergopoekt, operational licence October 2011, full commercial operation September 201260 yearsFinal cost: RUR 7 billion ($220 million) under budget, 10% cheaper; turbine generator upgraded (2016)Uses components originally supplied for Belene in Bulgaria
    Kola3VVER-440Safety analyses allowed 15-year extension from 2011, uprated to 107%, licence extension work in 2016To 60 years (2033)Intended life extension announced 2010; ongoing upgradesFirst VVERs to run on reprocessed uranium (RepU); international funding from neighboring countries
    Kola4VVER-440Uprated to 107%, 25-year licence extension granted October 2014; prepared for 107% operation (May 2016)To 60 years (2034)
    Kursk1-4RBMKLicence extensions and upgrades; RUR 30 billion investment in upgrading and extending lives of units 2-4Units 2-4: 45 yearsKursk 5 project abandoned February 2012; major announcements about Kursk II
    Leningrad1-4RBMKLife extensions and refurbishment; RUR 48 billion investment; graphite moderator restoration in unit 1 (2012-2013)45 yearsRUR 17 billion refurbishment for unit 4 (2008-2011), RUR 5 billion for unit 1 graphite stack restorationUnits 1 and 2 shut down; units 3&4 to shut down in 2025/2026; new VVER-1200 units operational
    Novovoronezh3&4VVER-44015-year licence extensions to 2016/2017, further 15-year extension for unit 4Upgrades included reactor control system replacement, electrical equipment replacement, upgraded safety systemsFirst VVER-440 units to have operational life extended by annealing the reactor pressure vessels
    Novovoronezh5VVER-1000Refurbishment, upgrade, and life extension announced mid-2009, work completed September 2010To 2035Cost: initially RUR 1.66 billion ($52 million), eventually RUR 14 billion ($450 million); 12 months of work
    Novovoronezh6&7VVER-1200Unit 6 grid-connected August 2016, unit 7 grid-connected April 2019
    Rostov2V-320Operating licence approved September 2009, startup January 2010, grid connection March 2010, commercial operation October 2010Approved for 104% power October 2012
    Rostov3&4V-320Unit 3 construction restarted September 2009, full power July 2015, commercial operation September 2015, power increase approved December 2015Unit 4 construction started June 2010, startup late 2017, grid connection February 2018, commercial operation September 2018
    Smolensk1-3RBMKRUR 45 billion program to upgrade and extend operating lifetime announced 2012, Smolensk II construction underway (first VVER unit online by 2027)45 years
    This scheme table presents a comprehensive overview of each power plant’s units, reactor types, upgrade details, operating lifetime extensions, major overhauls and investments, fuel details, and additional information.

    Parallel to its nuclear ambitions, Russia is also expanding its hydro-electric capacity. The goal is to increase hydro capacity by 60% by 2020 and double it by 2030. Projects like the 3 GWe Boguchanskaya plant in Siberia, developed in collaboration with Rusal for aluminum smelting, exemplify these efforts. The overarching aim is to have nearly half of Russia’s electricity generated from nuclear and hydro sources by 2030.

    Earlier plans outlined in the government’s Energy Strategy 2030, published in November 2009, envisioned a substantial increase in generation capacity from 225 GWe in 2008 to between 355 and 445 GWe by 2030. A revised scheme in 2010 projected a demand of 1288 TWh by 2020 and 1553 TWh by 2030, requiring 78 GWe of new capacity by 2020 and 178 GWe by 2030. This included 43.4 GWe of nuclear capacity. The scheme also anticipated the decommissioning of 67.7 GWe of capacity by 2030, including 16.5 GWe of nuclear plant.

    Russia’s leadership in fast neutron reactor technology is a critical aspect of its nuclear strategy. The Proryv (‘Breakthrough’) project aims to consolidate this leadership by developing advanced reactors and fuel cycle technologies. Fast reactors, which can utilize a broader range of fuel types and generate less long-lived radioactive waste, are seen as essential for achieving a closed fuel cycle. This technology not only enhances the sustainability of nuclear energy but also positions Russia as a key player in the global nuclear market.

    Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major policy and economic objective for Russia. By late 2017, foreign orders for nuclear reactors and related services totaled $133 billion. Russia’s expertise in nuclear technology, coupled with competitive pricing and favorable financing terms, has made it a preferred partner for many countries looking to develop their nuclear energy programs. Currently, over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction, highlighting Russia’s significant role in the global nuclear industry.

    Power Reactors Under Construction

    ReactorReactor TypeMWe GrossConstruction StartStart or Commercial OperationAdditional Details
    BREST-OD-300BREST-30030006/20212026
    Kursk II-1VVER-TOI/V-510125504/20182025
    Kursk II-2VVER-TOI/V-510125504/20192025?
    Leningrad II-3VVER V-491118803/20242030
    Subtotal3998Total gross power of reactors under construction
    MBIR (Research)Located at Dimitrovgrad
    Baltic 1VVER-1200/V-49102/2012Suspended in 07/2013RPV for Baltic 1 used in Ostrovets 2, Belarus. Shown under construction in PRIS, removed from WNA (11/2020)

    Power Reactors Planned and Officially Proposed

    ReactorReactor TypeMWe GrossStatus/Start ConstructionAdditional Details
    Leningrad II-4VVER 1200/V-4911170Planned
    Smolensk II-1VVER-TOI1250Planned
    Smolensk II-2VVER-TOI1250Planned
    Kursk II-3VVER-TOI1255Planned
    Kursk II-4VVER-TOI1255Planned
    Kola II-1VVER-600/V-498600Planned
    Kola II-2VVER-600/V-498600Planned
    Beloyarsk 5BN-12001220Planned
    Ust-KuygaRITM-200N55×2PlannedYakutia
    Cape NagloynynRITM-200M50×4PlannedChukotka
    Subtotal8930Total gross power of planned reactors

    Power Reactors Proposed

    ReactorReactor TypeMWe GrossStatus/Start ConstructionAdditional Details
    Tatar 1&2VVER-TOI1255×2Proposed
    Seversk 1&2VVER-TOI1255×2Proposed
    Bashkirsk 1&2VVER-TOI1255×2Proposed
    Primorsk 1&2VK-300 or VBER-300300×2Proposed
    South Urals 3BN-12001220Proposed
    Zheleznogorsk MCC 1&2VBER-300300×2Proposed
    Tver 1-4VVER-12001200×4Proposed
    Nizhny Novgorod 3&4VVER-TOI1255Proposed
    Tsentral 3&4VVER-TOI1255Proposed
    Beloyarsk 6BN-1200/16001220/1600Proposed
    SakhaABV-618×2Proposed
    Balakovo 5&6VVER-10001000×2Formerly proposed by RUSAL
    Baltic 1&2 (Kaliningrad)VVER-1200/V-4911170×2Proposed
    South Urals 1&2BN-12001220×2Proposed
    Novovoronezh II-3 & II-4VVER-12001200×2Proposed
    Nizhny Novgorod 1&2VVER-TOI1255×2Proposed
    Central/Kostroma 1&2VVER-TOI1250×2Proposed
    Smolensk II-3 & II-4VVER-TOI1250×2Proposed
    Subtotal37,716Approximate total gross power of proposed reactors
    Additional InformationVVER-1200 is the reactor portion of AES-2006 NPP or VVER-TOI for planned units beyond Leningrad II
    Additional InformationSouth Urals was to be BN-800, now BN-1200
    Additional InformationSeversk near Tomsk, Tver near Kalinin, Nizhegorod near Nizhniy Novgorod, 400 km east of Moscow
    Additional InformationTsentral at Buisk in Kostrama region, South Ural at Ozersk, Chelyabinsk region
    Additional InformationTatarskaya in Kamskiye Polyany, Nizhnekamsk region, Primorsk in the far east
    Additional InformationVilyuchinsk in Kamchatka region, Pevek in Chukotka Autonomous Region near Bilibino
    Additional InformationFloating NPPs planned for Vilyuchinsk and Kamchatka, operational plant at Pevek, Chukotka
    Additional InformationTver and Tsentral considered alternatives in the short term
    This detailed scheme table presents a comprehensive overview of the power reactors under construction, planned, and proposed, including all pertinent information in separate columns for clarity.

    In addition to its domestic nuclear projects, Russia is actively involved in international collaborations and joint ventures. These partnerships not only facilitate the exchange of technology and expertise but also help to secure long-term contracts and market share. Countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East are key markets for Russian nuclear exports, and ongoing projects in these regions underscore the strategic importance of nuclear energy in Russia’s foreign policy.

    The economic and strategic benefits of nuclear energy for Russia are multifaceted. Domestically, nuclear power provides a stable and reliable source of electricity, contributing to energy security and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. This is particularly important given the fluctuations in global energy markets and the geopolitical implications of energy exports. Moreover, the development of advanced nuclear technologies supports high-skilled jobs and stimulates innovation in related industries.

    From a global perspective, Russia’s emphasis on nuclear energy aligns with efforts to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power is a low-carbon energy source, and its expansion can play a crucial role in achieving international climate goals. Russia’s leadership in nuclear technology also enhances its influence in global energy governance and reinforces its position as a major energy exporter.

    The current state of Russia’s nuclear energy sector reflects a complex interplay of historical legacy, technological advancement, and strategic planning. The challenges faced in the early 2010s, including aging infrastructure and regional grid constraints, necessitated significant reforms and investments. The privatization of non-nuclear generators and the establishment of Rosenergoatom as the sole nuclear utility were key steps in this process. These changes laid the groundwork for the subsequent expansion and modernization of Russia’s nuclear energy capabilities.

    Reactor Technology Developments in Russia: An Updated Overview

    The advancement of nuclear reactor technology in Russia has seen significant developments since 2006, characterized by serial construction, the development of fast breeder reactors, small and medium-sized reactors, and high-temperature reactors. This document provides a detailed analysis of these developments, including updated information and projections as of 2023.

    Russian PWR nuclear power reactors*

    Generic reactor typeReactor plant modelWhole power plant
    VBER-300 (under development) OKBM, 325 MWe gross, based on KLT-40
    VVER-210V-1prototype VVER, Novovoronezh 1
    VVER-365V-3MNovovoronezh 2
    VVER-440V-179Novovoronezh 3-4, prototype VVER-440
    V-230Kola 1-2, EU units closed down
    V-270Armenia 1-2, based on V-230
    V-213Kola 3-4, Rovno 1-2, Loviisa, Paks, Dukovany, Bohunice V2, Mochovce
    V-318Cuba, based on V-213, full containment & ECCS
    VVER-640V-407(under development), Gen III+, Gidropress
    VVER-300V-478(under development, based on V-407), Gen III+, Gidropress
    VVER-600V-498(under development by Gidropress, based on V-491), Gen III+, proposed for Kola, Baltic
    VVER-1000V-187Novovoronezh 5, prototype VVER-1000
    V-302South Ukraine 1
    V-320most Russian & Ukraine plants, Kozloduy 5-6, Temelin 1-2
    V-338Kalinin 1-2, South Ukraine 2
    V-446based on V-392, adapted to previous Siemens work, Bushehr 1
    V-413AES-91
    V-428AES-91 Tianwan and Vietnam proposal, based on V-392, Gen III
    V-428MTianwan 4&5, later version
    V-412AES-92 Kudankulam, based on V-392, Gen III
    V-392AES-92 – meets EUR standards, Armenia, Khmelnitsky 3-4, Gen III
    V-392BAES-92
    V-466AES-91/99 Olkiluoto bid, also Sanmen, developed from V-428, Gen III
    V-466BAES-92 Belene/Kozloduy 7, Jordan?, developed from V-412 & V-466, 60-year lifetime, 1060 MWe gross, Gen III, Gidropress
     V-528Bushehr 2&3 version of V-466B
    VVER-1200V-392MAES-2006 by Moscow AEP and Gidropress, Novovoronezh; Developed from V-392 and V-412, Gen III+, 1170 MWe gross, more passive safety than V-491, developed to VVER-TOI
    V-491AES-2006 Leningrad, Baltic, Belarus, Tianwan 7&8, Ninh Thuan 1 bid; developed from AES-91 V-428 by Atomproekt and Gidropress, Gen III+, 1170 MWe gross, developed to MIR-1200 for EUR
     V-508MIR-1200 from V-491 for EUR, Temelin bid
     V-509Akkuyu version, based on Novovoronezh V-392M
     V-522Hanhikivi version of V-491 AES-2006E
     V-523Rooppur version of V-392M, Novovoronezh reference, AES-2006M
     V-527Paks II version of V-491 AES-2006E
     V-529El Dabaa version of V-491 AES-2006E
    VVER-1200AV-501Concept proposal AES-2006, but two-loop, shelved in 2011
    VVER-1300V-488AES-2006M, developmental model, Gen III+, Gidropress
     V-510AES-2010, Generation III+ VVER-TOI, 1250 MWe gross, developed by Moscow AEP from V-392M, Nizhny Novgorod, Kursk II, Smolensk II, Central, Tatar
     V-513Upgraded V-392M, VVER-TOI
    VVER-1300A?Cheaper variant of VVER-TOI
    VVER-1500V-448Gidropress, Gen III+, shelved in 2006
    VVER-1800?(concept proposal) three loops, based on 1300A and 1500
    VVER-SCPV-393being developed, Supercritical, Gen IV

    AES=NPP. Early V numbers referred to models which were widely built in several countries, eg V-230, V-320. Then the V-392 seemed to be a general export version of the V-320. Later V numbers are fairly project-specific. Broadly the first digit of the number is the VVER generation, the second is the reactor system and the third – and any suffix – relates to the building.
    Generation III or III+ ratings are as advised by Gidropress, but not necessarily accepted internationally.

    * V-392M has two active safety channels, while V-491 has four, and turbine hall layouts are also different. In the V-392M there is a focus placed on avoidance of redundancy, aiming at higher cost-effectiveness of the plant construction and operation. Both V-392M and V-491 designs include a common emergency core cooling system (ECCS) passive section, but in the V-392M the ECCS active section is represented by a combined two-channel high and low pressure system, while the V-491 utilizes a segregated four-channel high and low pressure system. The V-392M design features a closed two-channel steam generator emergency cool-down system, whereas the V491 uses a traditional four-channel emergency feedwater system. To mitigate consequences of beyond design basis accidents involving total loss of AC power sources, both designs use a passive heat removal system, which is air-cooled in the V-392M and water-cooled in the V-491. Additionally, the V-392M design is fitted with a four-channel emergency passive core flooding system.

    While Gidropress is responsible for the actual 1200 MWe reactor, Moscow AEP and Atomproekt St Petersburg are going different ways on the cooling systems, and one or the other may be chosen for future plants once Leningrad II and Novovoronezh II are operating. Passive safety systems prevail in Moscow’s V-392M design, while St Petersburg’s V-491 design focuses on active safety systems based on Tianwan V-428 design.

    Serial Construction of AES-2006 Units

    VVER-1000, AES-92, and AES-91

    The VVER-1000, with the V-320 version as the main design, has been a cornerstone of Russia’s reactor technology. Developed by OKB Gidropress, this reactor has a net output of 950-1000 MWe and a basic design life of 30 years. The V-392 version, designed for export, features enhanced safety and seismic attributes and serves as the foundation for the AES-92 power plant.

    Advanced versions of the VVER-1000, equipped with Western instrument and control systems, have been deployed in China (Tianwan) and India (Kudankulam) as AES-91 and AES-92 nuclear power plants, respectively. These reactors, with a design life of 40 years, have slightly different safety and seismic features, with the AES-92 incorporating more passive safety measures.

    VVER-1200, AES-2006, and MIR-1200

    The third-generation VVER-1200 reactor, part of the AES-2006 power plant, represents an evolutionary step from the VVER-1000. The V-491 and V-392M versions, developed by Atomproekt in St. Petersburg and Moscow respectively, offer improved thermal efficiency, higher power output, and a longer operational life of 60 years.

    The lead units of the AES-2006 series, operational at Novovoronezh II (V-392M) and Leningrad II (V-491), incorporate advanced safety features, including passive decay heat removal systems. The construction time for serial units is capped at 54 months, with a capital cost of approximately $2100/kW.

    VVER-1300, VVER-TOI, and VVER-1300A

    The VVER-TOI (typical optimized, with enhanced information) design for the AES-2010 plant represents a further evolution of the AES-2006 series. This design, with an output of 1255 MWe gross and 1300 MWe nominally, incorporates advanced materials and a more efficient pressure vessel design. The VVER-TOI is planned as the standard for future projects in Russia and internationally, with construction times reduced to 40 months.

    VVER-600 and VVER-1500

    The VVER-600, a two-loop variant of the V-491 design, offers high export potential and is planned for deployment at the Kola site. This reactor, with a design life of 60 years, is expected to enter service in the 2020s.

    The VVER-1500, although shelved in 2006, remains a potential future development. This design, with a gross output of 1500 MWe, was intended to meet EUR criteria for Generation III+ reactors.

    VVER-1800 and VVER-SKD-1700

    The VVER-1800, an evolution of the VVER-1300A, is currently paused in development. Meanwhile, the VVER-SKD-1700 (VVER-SCWR), a Generation IV project, focuses on supercritical water-cooled reactor technology with a high thermodynamic efficiency of 45%.

    Small VVERs and Spectral Core Designs

    The development of small modular reactors (SMRs) continues, with the VVER-I series designed for factory production and transportable installation. These reactors, available in 100, 200, and 300 MWe variants, offer high modularization and construction cost efficiency.

    The VVER-SM project with spectral core control aims to improve fuel utilization by adjusting the neutron spectrum during fuel burn-up. This design, expected post-2030, will efficiently use MOX fuel and enhance the breeding ratio.

    Floating Nuclear Power Plants and Icebreaker Reactors

    KLT-40S and ABV Reactors

    The KLT-40S reactors, mounted on barges, provide power and heat to isolated coastal towns. The ABV reactors, with outputs ranging from 4 to 18 MWe, offer compact and integral steam generator designs for ground or barge mounting.

    RITM-200 and RITM-400

    The RITM-200 reactor, replacing older icebreaker reactors, provides 50-55 MWe with inherent safety features. The larger RITM-400, under development for larger icebreakers, will deliver 120 MW propulsion with a service lifetime of 40 years.

    Land-Based RITM-200N and Export Potential

    The RITM-200N design, finalized in 2018, is intended for land-based applications, with the first unit planned for Ust-Kuyga in Yakutia. This reactor will replace coal and diesel capacity, reducing local electricity costs by half.

    Exports of combined power and desalination units are planned, targeting regions with scarce clean water supplies. Potential buyers include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Cape Verde, and Argentina.

    VBER and VK Series Reactors

    VBER-300 and VBER-500

    The VBER-300, a 325 MWe PWR unit, is designed for both floating and land-based applications. OKBM Afrikantov is developing this reactor with an emphasis on exports and regional power needs. The VBER-500 design, announced in 2012, offers modular power plants based on standard 100 MWe modules.

    VK-300 and AST-500

    The VK-300 boiling water reactor, developed for cogeneration and desalination, has not progressed beyond feasibility studies. The AST-500, an early design for district heating, shares features with the VK-300 but was never operated.

    RBMK/LWGR and HTRs

    The development of RBMK light water graphite reactors has been supplemented by the introduction of uranium-erbium fuel, extending fuel life and improving burn-up rates. High-temperature reactors (HTRs), initially a focus in the 1990s, are now being revisited for hydrogen production and actinide burning, with collaboration between Russia and China.

    Fast Neutron Reactors

    BN-600 and BN-800

    The BN-600 reactor, operational since 1980, has undergone upgrades to extend its operational life to 2025. The BN-800 reactor, designed to utilize MOX fuel, started operations in 2014 and serves as a testbed for fuel and design features for future fast reactors.

    BN-1200

    The BN-1200, under development by OKBM Afrikantov, aims to produce 1220 MWe with a design life of 60 years. This reactor is part of the Proryv (Breakthrough) project, focusing on closed fuel cycle technology.

    BREST-300 and SVBR-100

    The BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor, part of the Proryv project, is being constructed at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk. This reactor will test mixed uranium-plutonium nitride fuel derived from recycled plutonium.

    The SVBR-100, a lead-bismuth cooled fast reactor, was planned as a modular unit for regional power needs but has been dropped due to escalating costs.

    Improving Reactor Performance Through Fuel Development

    Significant improvements in fuel performance have been achieved, extending fuel life and increasing burn-up rates. The use of burnable poisons and structural changes to fuel assemblies have enhanced the operational efficiency of VVER and RBMK reactors.

    International Collaboration

    Russia’s involvement in international nuclear projects includes leading roles in the IAEA Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) and participation in the Generation IV International Forum. Collaboration with other countries continues to advance reactor technology and fuel cycle development.

    The development of reactor technology in Russia has progressed significantly, with advancements in serial construction, fast breeder reactors, small modular reactors, and high-temperature reactors. These developments are supported by international collaboration and continuous improvement in fuel performance, ensuring Russia’s leadership in the global nuclear industry.

    Rosatom’s Ambitious Floating Nuclear Power Plants

    Rosatom’s initiative to develop floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) has been a transformative venture in the realm of nuclear energy, with significant implications for both domestic and international energy strategies. The vision was initially ambitious, with plans to construct seven or eight FNPPs by 2015. However, the execution faced numerous delays and challenges, altering the trajectory of the project.

    The first FNPP, named the Academician Lomonosov, was designed to house two 35 MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors. These reactors, also referred to as APVS-80 when utilized primarily for desalination, have a projected operating life of 38 years, structured into three 12-year operational periods with maintenance outages in between. The FNPP is capable of cogeneration, providing both electricity and heat, and boasts a desalination capacity ranging from 40,000 to 240,000 cubic meters per day.

    The original construction plans underwent several changes. The keel of the Academician Lomonosov was laid in April 2007 at Sevmash in Severodvinsk. However, in August 2008, due to military workload pressures at Sevmash, Rosatom shifted the construction to the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg, a facility with a proven track record in building nuclear icebreakers. After signing a new contract worth RUR 9.98 billion in February 2009, the keel was laid again in May 2009. The hull, weighing 21,500 tonnes and measuring 144 meters in length and 30 meters in width, was launched in June 2010. The two KLT-40S reactors were installed in October 2013, and by mid-2016, mooring tests began. The vessel embarked on its journey to Pevek in May 2018, mooring in Murmansk for fuel loading, which was completed in October 2018. The reactors were started up in December 2019, and the plant began commercial operations in May 2020, connecting to the local grid and supplying heat and water. Full production and process heat supply were slated for complete implementation by 2021.

    The FNPP was initially planned to be deployed in Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula to provide reliable electricity and heat to the naval base there. Completion and towing to the site were expected in 2012, with grid connection in 2013. However, the insolvency of the shipyard JSC Baltijsky Zavod and ensuing legal issues delayed the project. United Shipbuilding Corporation, a state-owned entity, acquired the shipyard in 2012, and a new contract was signed with its successor, Baltijsky Zavod-Sudostroyeniye, in December 2012. The completion cost was then estimated at RUR 7.631 billion ($248 million).

    The KLT-40S reactor, derived from icebreaker reactors, runs on low-enriched uranium (<20%) and has a core that requires refueling every 3-4.5 years. The reactor’s operational lifetime is projected at 40 years. The reactor assembling and acceptance tests were conducted at Nizhny Novgorod Machine-building Plant (NMZ), with contributions from OKBM (design and technical support), Izhorskiye Zavody (reactor pressure vessel manufacture), and NMZ (component manufacturing and assembly). The completed FNPP was towed through the Baltic Sea to Murmansk for fuel loading and startup at the Atomflot base.

    Concerns regarding the safety and environmental impact of non-propelled nuclear power plants traversing international waters were raised, as the Law of the Sea does not address such scenarios. However, these issues could not be resolved until the reactors were back in Russian waters.

    In September 2015, Rosatom signed a cooperation agreement with the government of the Chukotka Autonomous District to develop the power sector around the Chaun-Bilibino Energy Hub, including the installation of the first FNPP at Pevek. Construction of onshore facilities began in September 2016, and the plant is now referred to as a floating nuclear cogeneration plant (FNCP) or floating nuclear power unit (FPU).

    Pevek, located on the Chukotka Peninsula, was initially intended to host the second FNPP, replacing the Bilibino nuclear plant and a 35 MWe thermal plant as part of the Chaun-Bilibino industrial hub. However, by the end of 2012, Pevek was designated as the site for the first FNPP unit due to the Ministries of Defence, Energy, and Industry’s decision, citing Chukotka’s more attractive tariff revenue compared to Vilyuchinsk. The total estimated cost for Pevek had risen to RUR 37 billion ($740 million) by May 2015, partly due to the required site works and infrastructure. The government allocated RUR 5 billion over 2016-2020 for coastal infrastructure, with the pilot FNPP costing Rosenergoatom RUR 21.5 billion. The second FNPP was projected to cost around RUR 18 billion.

    The third site under consideration was Chersky or Sakha in Yakutia. In June 2010, a “roadmap” for deploying up to eight FNPPs was anticipated but never materialized. As of early 2009, four FNPPs were designated for northern Yakutia, supporting the Elkon uranium mining project in southern Yakutia. An agreement was signed in 2007 with the Sakha Republic to build one of these FNPPs, utilizing smaller ABV-6 reactors. Additionally, five FNPPs were intended for Gazprom’s offshore oil and gas field development and operations on the Kola Peninsula near Finland and the Yamal Peninsula in central Siberia. There is also significant export potential for FNPPs, with electricity costs expected to be lower than current alternatives.

    In July 2017, Rosatom announced a second generation of FNPPs, known as optimized floating power units (OFPUs), featuring two RITM-200M reactors derived from those used in the latest icebreakers. These reactors, at 50 MWe each, require refueling every 10-12 years at a service base, eliminating the need for onboard used fuel storage. The reactors are lighter, allowing for a smaller barge with a reduced displacement of about 12,000 tonnes. The operational lifetime is set at 40 years, with a potential extension to 60 years.

    Rosatom plans to deploy three such units at Cape Nagloynyn to supply 330 MWe to the Baimskaya copper mining project south of Bilibino and Pevek by 2028, with one unit in reserve for refueling and maintenance downtime. In September 2021, Rosatom subsidiary FSUE Atomflot and KAZ Minerals subsidiary GDK Baimskaya LLC signed an agreement for electricity supply from four 106 MWe OFPUs. Rosatom’s commitment amounts to over RUR 150 billion ($2.1 billion), with an electricity price of RUR 6.45/kWh (¢8/kWh) indexed for inflation. In September 2021, Rosatom awarded a $226 million contract to Wison (Nantong) Heavy Industries in China for the first two 19,100-tonne barge hulls, scheduled for delivery in 2023 and 2024. The reactors and turbines will be installed in Russia at Baltijsky Zavod Shipbuilding in St. Petersburg, where the other two barge hulls will also be built. In early September 2022, Atomenergomash marked the start of full construction of the first four OFPUs with a keel laying ceremony.

    In May 2014, the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) signed an agreement with Rosatom to cooperate on constructing floating nuclear cogeneration plants for China’s offshore islands. These plants would be built in China but based on Russian technology, possibly using Russian KLT-40S reactors. However, this arrangement appears to have been supplanted by indigenous Chinese developments. In August 2015, Rosatom and Indonesia’s BATAN signed a cooperation agreement on constructing FNPPs, but no further progress has been reported.

    In addition to FNPPs, NIKIET is developing a sunken power plant to supply electricity for Arctic oil and gas development. This plant, known as SHELF, is a 6 MWe integral PWR designed to sit on the seabed. NIKIET has also proposed using this technology for the RUR 100 billion Pavlovsky lead-zinc mine project in northern Novaya Zemlya.

    The development and deployment of FNPPs represent a significant advancement in nuclear energy technology, offering a versatile and scalable solution for providing power to remote and isolated regions. The Academician Lomonosov and subsequent FNPPs are expected to play a crucial role in supporting industrial and residential energy needs in Russia’s Arctic and far-eastern territories, while also presenting substantial export potential for international markets.

    As the project progresses, the technological innovations and logistical solutions developed for FNPPs could pave the way for new applications and collaborations worldwide. The continued evolution of FNPP technology, including the transition to optimized floating power units, reflects Rosatom’s commitment to advancing nuclear energy’s capabilities and addressing the unique challenges posed by remote and offshore energy needs.

    With these developments, Russia is poised to maintain a leading position in the global nuclear energy market, leveraging its expertise in reactor design and maritime engineering to offer cutting-edge solutions that meet the growing demand for reliable and sustainable energy sources. As FNPPs become more widely adopted, they may significantly impact the energy landscape, offering a clean, efficient, and adaptable power source for various applications across the globe.

    The Export of Russian Nuclear Reactors

    Russia’s export of nuclear technology has significantly influenced the global energy market, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs playing a pivotal role in promoting these technologies abroad. Central to this effort is Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, which has developed a robust system of foreign representatives in Russian embassies worldwide. This strategy is bolstered by substantial competitive financing for nuclear construction in client countries and a willingness to take equity or even adopt a build-own-operate (BOO) model, as exemplified by the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project in Turkey.

    Rosatom’s Global Portfolio and Financial Strategy

    At the 2015 Atomexpo, Rosatom revealed that at the start of that year, its foreign portfolio of orders totaled $101.4 billion. This included $66 billion for reactors, $21.8 billion for the contracted sales of Enriched Uranium Product (EUP) and Separative Work Units (SWU), and $13.6 billion from the sales of fabricated fuel assemblies and uranium. By the end of 2016, the total value of orders had surged to over $133 billion. Export revenues in 2015 reached $6.4 billion, marking a 20% increase from 2014. Rosatom’s strategic goal is to derive 60% of its total revenue from exported goods and services by 2030, with half of its reactor revenue coming from overseas projects by 2017. Early in 2016, Rosatom reported that Russia’s GDP benefitted significantly from these projects, gaining two roubles for every rouble invested in building nuclear power plants abroad, along with enhanced trade benefits.

    Forecast and Competitive Edge

    From 2020 onwards, Rosatom forecasts the construction of approximately 16 nuclear units globally per year, with 4-5 of those potentially being Rosatom projects. Rosatom’s strength lies in its ability to offer an integrated package for nuclear power plants, which includes turnkey construction, fuel supply, training, services, infrastructure development, and legal and regulatory structures. In November 2015, Rosatom stated that due to its integrated structure, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for new VVER reactors was no more than $50-$60 per MWh in most countries.

    Financial Partnerships and Strategic Agreements

    In 2016, Rosatom and the Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank) agreed to develop their cooperation to support Rosatom’s investments in overseas projects. This agreement aligns with the bank’s new strategic priorities and aims to address global nuclear industry challenges while increasing the energy security of the Russian Federation. It also aims to contribute to the growth of the Russian economy and expand Russia’s presence in the global nuclear energy market.

    Notable Projects and International Collaborations

    Atomstroyexport (ASE), a subsidiary of Rosatom, has completed several significant reactor construction projects abroad, primarily involving VVER-1000 units. These include:

    • The Bushehr power plant in Iran, initially started by Siemens KWU.
    • Two AES-91 units at Jiangsu Tianwan in China.
    • Two AES-92 units at Kudankulam in India.

    Future projects include:

    • A second unit at Bushehr, Iran.
    • Additional units at Tianwan, China.
    • Four more VVER units at Kudankulam, India, as part of a memorandum of understanding signed in 2007, which has expanded to about ten units including VVER-1200 types at multiple sites.

    Funding Arrangements and Financial Models

    Different funding arrangements are utilized for Russian export nuclear power plants:

    • China and Iran directly finance their projects.
    • India benefits from substantial Russian finance.
    • Belarus, Bangladesh, and Hungary rely on major loans.
    • Turkey employs a BOO model with guaranteed long-term electricity prices.
    • Finland involves a 34% Russian equity stake.

    Current and Future Projects

    As of April 2015, Rosatom had contracts for 19 nuclear plants in nine countries, with five under construction. By December 2015, the number of orders had increased to 34 nuclear power reactors in 13 countries, with each project costing around $5 billion to construct. The total value of all export orders by September was $300 billion, excluding projects in Egypt.

    Detailed Technical Data and Information on Rosatom’s International Nuclear Projects

    China: Tianwan and Xudabao Projects

    Tianwan 3&4:

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000 (AES-91 design)
    • Status: Operational
    • Capacity: 1000 MWe each
    • Construction Start Date: December 2012
    • Commercial Operation Date: Tianwan 3 in December 2017, Tianwan 4 in March 2018

    Tianwan 7 & 8:

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Under construction (as of 2021)
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each
    • Construction Start Date: Tianwan 7 in May 2021, Tianwan 8 in September 2021
    • Expected Completion Date: 2026 for both units

    Xudabao 3 & 4:

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Under construction (as of 2021)
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each
    • Construction Start Date: Xudabao 3 in 2021
    • Expected Completion Date: 2026

    India: Kudankulam and Haripur Projects

    Kudankulam 3 & 4:

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000 (AES-92 design)
    • Status: Under construction
    • Capacity: 1000 MWe each
    • Construction Start Date: June 2017
    • Expected Completion Date: 2025 for both units

    Haripur:

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Planned
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each
    • Number of Units: 4
    • Planned Start Date: Not specified

    Belarus: Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Operational
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each (2 units)
    • Construction Start Date: November 2013
    • Commercial Operation Date: Ostrovets 1 in November 2020, Ostrovets 2 in May 2022
    • Financing: $10 billion loan from Russia covering 90% of the project cost

    Bangladesh: Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 with V-392M reactors)
    • Status: Under construction
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each (2 units)
    • Construction Start Date: November 2017
    • Expected Completion Date: 2023 for the first unit, 2024 for the second unit
    • Financing: $2 billion from Russia covering 90% of the first unit’s construction

    Turkey: Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Under construction
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each (4 units)
    • Construction Start Date: April 2018
    • Expected Completion Date: First unit in 2023, subsequent units by 2026
    • Project Cost: $20 billion
    • Financing Model: BOO (Build-Own-Operate)

    Vietnam: Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000 (initial plan, project on hold)
    • Status: On hold
    • Capacity: 1000 MWe each (2 units)
    • Financing: 85% financed by Russia’s Ministry of Finance, total project cost $9 billion

    Finland: Hanhikivi Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Planned
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe
    • Project Share: Rusatom holds 34%
    • Financing: €5 billion from Rusatom

    Hungary: Paks II Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006 design)
    • Status: Planned
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each (2 units)
    • Financing: Low-interest loans covering 80% of the project cost

    Jordan: Canceled Nuclear Project

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000 (AES-92 design)
    • Status: Canceled in July 2018
    • Project Cost: $10 billion
    • Financing: 49% by Russia, project canceled in favor of SMR plans

    Bulgaria: Belene Nuclear Power Plant

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000 (AES-92 design)
    • Status: Unlikely to proceed
    • Project Cost: €4.0 billion
    • Consortium: ASE, Areva NP, Bulgarian enterprises

    Ukraine: Khmelnitsky 3 & 4

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1000
    • Status: Contract rescinded in 2015
    • Capacity: 1000 MWe each
    • Financing: 85% by Russian loan

    Czech Republic: Proposed Units

    • Reactor Type: VVER-1200 (AES-2006/MIR-1200 design)
    • Status: Decision deferred
    • Capacity: 1200 MWe each (2 units)
    • Consortium: Škoda JS, Atomstroyexport, OKB Gidropress

    Kazakhstan: Small Reactor Projects

    • Reactor Type: Likely VBER-300
    • Status: Proposed
    • Capacity: 300 MWe

    South Africa: Nuclear Capacity Agreement

    • Reactor Type: Not specified
    • Status: Broad agreement signed
    • Capacity Required: 9600 MWe

    Scheme Table with Detailed Information

    CountryProject/PlantReactor TypeCapacity (MWe)StatusConstruction Start DateCommercial Operation DateFinancing Details
    ChinaTianwan 3 & 4VVER-1000 (AES-91)1000 eachOperationalDecember 2012Tianwan 3: Dec 2017, Tianwan 4: Mar 2018
    ChinaTianwan 7 & 8VVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachUnder constructionTianwan 7: May 2021, Tianwan 8: Sep 20212026
    ChinaXudabao 3 & 4VVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachUnder construction20212026
    IndiaKudankulam 3 & 4VVER-1000 (AES-92)1000 eachUnder constructionJune 20172025
    IndiaHaripurVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachPlannedNot specified
    BelarusOstrovets NPPVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachOperationalNovember 2013Ostrovets 1: Nov 2020, Ostrovets 2: May 2022$10 billion loan covering 90%
    BangladeshRooppur NPPVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachUnder constructionNovember 20172023 (Unit 1), 2024 (Unit 2)$2 billion covering 90%
    TurkeyAkkuyu NPPVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachUnder constructionApril 2018First unit: 2023, subsequent units by 2026$20 billion, BOO model
    VietnamNinh Thuan 1 NPPVVER-10001000 eachOn holdNot started85% financed by Russia, $9 billion total
    FinlandHanhikivi NPPVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200PlannedNot started€5 billion from Rusatom
    HungaryPaks II NPPVVER-1200 (AES-2006)1200 eachPlannedNot startedLow-interest loans covering 80%
    JordanCanceled NPPVVER-1000 (AES-92)1000 eachCanceledNot started$10 billion, 49% by Russia
    BulgariaBelene NPPVVER-1000 (AES-92)1000 eachUnlikely to proceedNot started€4.0 billion
    UkraineKhmelnitsky 3 & 4VVER-10001000 each

    Market Expansion and Strategic Partnerships

    Rosatom has identified significant export potential for floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs) on a fully-serviced basis. Indonesia is one potential market, with Rosatom and Indonesia’s BATAN signing a cooperation agreement in August 2015 for the construction of FNPPs. Since 2006, Rosatom has pursued cooperation deals in South Africa, Namibia, Chile, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, Zambia, and Paraguay.

    In February 2008, ASE formed an alliance with TechnoPromExport (TPE), an exporter of other large-scale power generation types, to streamline their international marketing efforts. TPE boasts a portfolio of 400 power projects in 50 countries, totaling 87 GWe.

    Rosatom’s strategy for exporting nuclear technology is multifaceted, involving competitive financing, integrated service offerings, and strategic international partnerships. This approach has enabled Rosatom to secure a substantial portfolio of international projects, contributing significantly to Russia’s GDP and enhancing its global influence in the nuclear energy market. With ongoing and future projects spanning multiple continents, Rosatom is poised to remain a key player in the global nuclear industry for years to come.

    Export sales and prospects for Russian nuclear power plants (post-Soviet)

    CountryPlantTypeEst. costStatus, financing
    IranBushehr 1VVER-1000/V-446 operating
    ChinaTianwan 1&2AES-91 operating
     Tianwan 3&4AES-91 operating
    IndiaKudankulam 1&2AES-92$3 billionoperating
    BelarusOstrovets 1&2AES-2006/V-491 operating
    Operating: 9
    CountryPlantTypeEst. costStatus, financing
    IndiaKudankulam 3&4AES-92$5.8 billionConstruction start June 2017 and Oct 2017
    BangladeshRooppur 1&2VVER-1200/V-392M$13 billionConstruction start Nov 2017 and July 2018, loan organized for 90%
    TurkeyAkkuyu 1-4VVER-1200/V-509$25 billion for fourConstruction start April 2018, April 2020, March 2021, July 2022
    IranBushehr 2AES-92/V-466B Construction start Nov 2019
    ChinaTianwan 7&8VVER-1200/V-491 Construction start May 2021
    ChinaXudabao 3&4VVER-1200/V-491 Construction start May 2021
    EgyptEl Dabaa 1-4VVER-1200/V-529$30 billionConstruction start July 2020, Nov 2020, May 2023, Jan 2024
    IndiaKudankulam 5&6VVER V-412 Construction start June 2021, Dec 2021
    Construction: 19
    CountryPlantTypeEst. costStatus, financing
    ArmeniaMetsamor 3AES-92$5 billion 
    HungaryPaks 5&6AES-2006  
    UzbekistanLake TudakalAES-2006  
    IndiaKudankulam 7&8AES-2006  
    IndiaAndra Pradesh6 x AES-2006 Negotiated in 2015
    BulgariaBelene/Kozloduy 7AES-92 Cancelled, but may be revived
    UkraineKhmelnitskicompletion of 2 x V-392B reactors$4.9 billionWas due to commence construction 2015, 85% financed by loan, but contract rescinded by Ukraine in 2015
    South AfricaThyspuntup to 8 x AES-2006 Broad agreement signed, no specifics, Russia offers finance, prefers BOO. On hold
    Nigeria AES-2006? Broad agreement signed, no specifics, Russia offers finance, BOO
    ArgentinaAtucha 5?AES-2006 Broad agreement signed, no specifics, Russia offers finance, contract expected 2016
    IndonesiaSerpong10 MWe HTR Concept design by OKBM Afrikantov
    Algeria?? Agreement signed, no specifics
    JordanAl Amra2 x AES-92$10 billionCancelled in 2018
    VietnamNinh Thuan 14 x AES-2006 On hold indefinitely
    Proposals: up to 30

    Looking ahead, the future of nuclear energy in Russia appears promising, with ongoing projects and ambitious plans for further development. The construction of new reactors, both domestically and internationally, will enhance Russia’s capacity to generate clean and reliable electricity. The emphasis on fast neutron reactors and the Proryv project will also ensure that Russia remains at the forefront of nuclear technology innovation. As global demand for sustainable energy solutions continues to grow, Russia’s expertise and experience in nuclear energy will be invaluable in shaping the future of the global energy landscape.

    In conclusion, Russia’s nuclear energy program is a testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable energy development and technological leadership. The detailed plans, significant investments, and strategic initiatives outlined in this article highlight the multifaceted benefits of nuclear energy for Russia. As the world transitions towards a more sustainable and low-carbon future, Russia’s role in the global nuclear industry will undoubtedly continue to expand, reinforcing its position as a key player in the international energy market.


    APPENDIX 1 – Russia’s Nuclear Power Landscape

    Russia’s nuclear power sector stands as one of the most extensive and dynamic in the world. Rooted in a history that dates back to the mid-20th century, the industry has undergone significant transformations, advancements, and expansions, positioning itself as a crucial component of the nation’s energy matrix and a major player in the global nuclear arena.

    Historical Context and Early Developments

    The genesis of Russia’s nuclear power can be traced to the 1954 Obninsk reactor, the world’s first nuclear power plant to produce electricity. This 5 MWe reactor marked the beginning of Russia’s foray into nuclear energy, setting the stage for future developments. The subsequent launch of commercial-scale nuclear power plants in 1963-64 and the commissioning of the first of today’s production models in 1971-73 underscored the country’s commitment to nuclear energy. By the mid-1980s, Russia had 25 power reactors in operation.

    However, the nuclear industry was not without its challenges. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster cast a long shadow over the industry, necessitating significant reforms and safety enhancements. These efforts are documented extensively in the appendix of Russia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle information page, detailing the regulatory and technological changes implemented to prevent such catastrophes in the future.

    Rosenergoatom: The Backbone of Russian Nuclear Operations

    Rosenergoatom, established in 1992 and reconstituted as a utility in 2001 under the aegis of Rosatom, is the sole Russian utility operating nuclear power plants. The organization manages its nuclear plants as branches, ensuring a cohesive and integrated approach to operations. Between the Chernobyl accident and the mid-1990s, the nuclear sector saw limited growth, with the commissioning of only a few units like the Balakovo power station and unit 3 at Smolensk. Economic upheavals following the Soviet Union’s collapse further stalled several projects due to a lack of funds.

    The late 1990s, however, marked a turning point. Exports of reactors to countries like Iran, China, and India injected much-needed capital, revitalizing Russia’s domestic nuclear construction program. By 2001, Rostov 1 (Volgodonsk 1) was operational, adding to the 21 GWe already on the grid. This was followed by Kalinin 3 in 2004, Rostov 2 in 2010, and Kalinin 4 in 2011, reflecting the renewed vigor in the sector.

    Strategic Developments and Economic Impact

    By 2006, the Russian government had reinforced its resolve to expand nuclear power, projecting an addition of 2-3 GWe annually until 2030. This expansion was not just limited to domestic growth; Russia also aimed to export nuclear plants to meet the global demand for 300 GWe of new capacity within that timeframe. Early in 2016, Rosatom highlighted the economic benefits, stating that Russia’s GDP gained three roubles for every rouble invested in domestic nuclear power plants, enhancing the socio-economic development of the country.

    In 2017, Rosatom’s CEO announced a strategic shift where the government would cease state support for new nuclear units by 2020, pushing Rosatom to become financially self-sufficient through commercial nuclear energy projects on the international stage. This transformation was a testament to Rosatom’s evolution from a collection of unprofitable entities to a vertically-integrated state corporation with robust financial strategies.

    Technological Advancements and Future Directions

    The Russian government’s approval in February 2010 of a federal target program aimed at developing a new technology platform for the nuclear power industry based on fast reactors marked a significant technological milestone. By June 2010, plans were in place for 173 GWe of new generating capacity by 2030, with 43.4 GWe from nuclear sources. Although the domestic target was halved by 2015, Rosatom still achieved a 36% reduction in electricity production costs at nuclear power plants from 2011 to 2017.

    Rosatom’s long-term strategy up to 2050 envisions a shift towards inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle, particularly under the Proryv (‘Breakthrough’) project. This strategy aims for nuclear power to supply 45-50% of Russia’s electricity by mid-century, with aspirations to reach 70-80% by the end of the century. The closed fuel cycle’s ultimate goal is to eliminate radioactive waste production from power generation.

    Capacity Utilization and Efficiency Improvements

    The utilization of existing nuclear plants has seen marked improvements since 2000. In the 1990s, capacity factors hovered around 60%, but they have since risen above 80%, demonstrating significant operational efficiency gains.

    Most reactors in Russia are undergoing lifetime extensions, with many initially licensed for 30 years now receiving 15-year extensions. By 2015, half of Russia’s nuclear generation came from units upgraded for long-term operation. Twenty-four out of 34 reactors had been upgraded, adding 3 GWe of generating capacity. The remaining ten were either in the process of being upgraded or were relatively new.

    Reactor Lifetime Extensions and Upgrades

    Lifetime extensions and uprates are critical components of Russia’s nuclear strategy. For example, the VVER-440 units typically receive 15-year operating lifetime extensions. Kola 1&2, V-230 models, have been upgraded for extensions to 60 years, with Kola 3&4 confirmed for 45-year extensions following upgrades. The VVER-1000 units are expected to receive 30-year operating licence extensions, with Balakovo 1 being the first large VVER reactor to undergo thermal annealing of the pressure vessel.

    In the RBMK reactor category, significant design modifications post-Chernobyl have extended the lifetimes of these reactors. The oldest RBMK units are undergoing service lifetime performance recovery (LPR) operations to correct graphite stack deformations, potentially extending their operational lives by at least three years, with possibilities for further extensions.

    Uprating and Fuel Cycle Optimization

    Rosenergoatom has implemented a series of uprates across its reactor fleet. By 2012, plans were in place to increase VVER-440 units’ power to 107%, RBMKs to 105%, and VVER-1000 units to 104-110%. By 2015, all VVER-1000 reactors were operating at 104% of their original capacity, with ongoing efforts to reach 107% using advanced fuel designs. The cost-effectiveness of these uprates is notable, with costs significantly lower than new construction.

    Additionally, Rosenergoatom is exploring the introduction of a 24-month fuel cycle for new units, transitioning from the current 18-month cycle used in VVER-1000 reactors. Achieving this requires design changes and increased fuel enrichment, promising further operational efficiencies.

    Challenges and Solutions

    The Russian nuclear industry continues to face challenges, particularly concerning the aging graphite moderators in RBMK reactors. Issues such as pressure tube distortion due to graphite swelling necessitate derating or extensive refurbishment to ensure continued safe operation. However, successful interventions, such as those at Leningrad 1, have demonstrated the feasibility of extending the operational lives of these reactors, alleviating pressure for accelerated replacement.

    Global Impact and Export Dynamics

    Russia’s nuclear sector is not confined to domestic developments. The country has established itself as a key exporter of nuclear technology, with significant projects in Iran, China, and India. This global reach not only supports Russia’s economic objectives but also strengthens its geopolitical influence.

    In conclusion, Russia’s nuclear power industry is a testament to resilience and innovation. From its early days with the Obninsk reactor to its current status as a global nuclear power leader, the sector has navigated challenges and leveraged opportunities to enhance its capabilities. The ongoing advancements in reactor technology, lifetime extensions, and uprates, coupled with strategic international collaborations, underscore the critical role of nuclear power in Russia’s energy future.

    The commitment to a closed fuel cycle and the development of fast reactors reflect a forward-looking approach that seeks to balance energy needs with environmental considerations. As the industry moves towards greater self-sufficiency and reduced state support, Rosatom’s efforts to optimize management systems and enhance commercial viability will be pivotal in sustaining growth and maintaining leadership in the global nuclear arena.

    The Russian nuclear power industry, therefore, stands at a crossroads of tradition and innovation, poised to meet the energy demands of the 21st century while contributing to global nuclear advancements.


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