Investment Project - Rosatom would develop its Hungarian subsidiary
LILLA B. HORVÁTH
Rosatom is the world leader in the number of nuclear power plants being built abroad. It is currently building 34 blocks in 12 countries of the world: in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia's Pacific region - reported Alexey Likhachev in his interview with Világgazdaság.
The CEO of Rosatom Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation said that the planned new nuclear power plant block in Paks will be able to withstand earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis and its casing will even be able to stand an aeroplane crash. These technical improvements will raise the security of this block to a superior quality level.
According to the information provided by Likhachev, new tenders have been opened for manufacturing, equipment and services, and they will be transparent, and in full compliance with EU regulations. All interested parties including EU companies can participate, he added. He said he naturally expected a significant participation from Hungarian companies as well. According to the CEO, the share of domestic suppliers could reach 40%. He stated that the Paks Nuclear Power Plant blocks currently in operation have been working successfully for over 30 years, providing more than a third of the electricity consumed in Hungary.
Russians promise transparent Paks tenders
Investment Project - Rosatom would develop its Hungarian subsidiary Russian nuclear technology plays an important role in achieving global climate goals. Alexey Likhachev, CEO of Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation was interviewed by Világgazdaság.
What are the main international trends in nuclear power generation and what is Rosatom's role in these?
- One of the main challenges is to improve the Earth's environmental status and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. An important event in this area was the agreement reached at the Paris conference of the United Nations. This was the first step in declaring that, apart from renewables, nuclear energy plays an important part in the future of green energy systems. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), for climate protection purposes, the use of nuclear power has to be increased by two and a half times what it is today by 2040, i.e. 6101 terawatt / hour per year. The Russian Federation is committed to achieve this. In its 10 power plants there are 35 blocks in operation and these make it possible to avoid 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every day. This number is equal to the entire biennial emmissions of Russian motor vehicles. By 2030, it is possible to avoid the emission of 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year using Russian pressurised-water technology nuclear power plants. This is equivalent to 80% of all the world's vehicles emissions in a year. Figuratively speaking, nuclear energy could become the lungs of the Earth.
How many projects are Rosatom currently working on?
- We are the world leader for the number of nuclear power plants built abroad: currently we are building 34 blocks in 12 countries of the world: in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia's Pacific region.
Are you satisfied with Rosatom's results last year?
- Our 10 year foreign portfolio of orders was $110 billion at the end of 2015, and over $133 billion at the end of 2016. Rosatom was the world leader in uranium enrichment and is in the top 3 in uranium mining and export. Rosatom generates 17% of the world's nuclear fuel market. Last year we launched the Indian Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant No. 2 block and we also began the construction of the second block in Buser, Iran. Our contract to build a nuclear power plant in Ruppur, Bangladesh has come into force. The Swedish Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant ordered a new type of TSZV-Kvadrat fuel from us - in the past we had only produced this type of fuel for self-designed reactors. We now also produce it for Western countries which is a new market opportunity for us.
What were the company's main technical achievements last year?
- The BN-800 fast neutron block in the Ural Beloyarski Nuclear Power Plant began commercial operation which was recently voted the power plant of the year by the prestigious specialist magazine 'Power'. Based on these reactors and fuel recycling technology, Rosatom can perfect the end of its nuclear fuel cycle, that is to say, it can minimise the amount of radioactive waste produced. We are ready to share our achievements in the field of fast neutron reactor development and operation with our foreign partners.
Last year the world's most modern, first 3+ generation reactor block started operating in Novovoronezh. Rosatom is planning to build two 3+ blocks in Hungary.
What are the technical advantages of this model?
Our flagship VVER-1200 3+ generation block uniquely combines the active and passive safety systems - thus significantly reducing the impact of human factors. The security systems are able to eliminate the effects of the most severe, beyond design hypothetical accidents and prevent the release of radioactive material into the environment. The project complies with all modern safety requirements that came into force after the Fukushima accident and with the most stringent requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Operators of European Power Plants (EUR). These are already being built in the Leningrad Power Plant, area 2, in Belarus, Bangladesh and elsewhere. Finland is also in the process of authorising one of these. We are also co-financers there as we own 24% of Fennovoima - the project company responsible for the construction and subsequent operation of the block. This is also important because, according to a new trend, in addition to the technology, customers are also looking for a partner who is able to offer complex solutions. These include financing and servicing during the power plant's entire lifecycle and professional training. Since we have already integrated the Russian nuclear energy sector as a whole, we are now able to offer complex solutions to all our customers.
How much safer will the new Paks blocks be in comparison to the ones that are already operating?
- They will have a range of passive safety systems in operation, even in the event of a complete power cut and without the intervention of operating staff. Such safety systems are the passive cooling of the reactor, the hydrogen recombiners and the zone melting traps. Adhering to the new safety standards, the reactor is placed in a double walled concrete tank containment. The block will withstand earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis and its casing will even be able to withstand an aeroplane crash. These technical improvements will raise the security of the VVER-1200 block to a superior quality level. The Paks Nuclear Power Plant's VVER-type blocks currently in operation have been working successfully for over 30 years, providing more than a third of the electricity consumed in Hungary. The first three Paks blocks have already received a service life extension licence for a further 20 years from the Hungarian nuclear authority and, in 2017, the 4th block will also be eligible to receive this.
Hungary is hoping that the construction of the new Paks blocks will begin in 2018. In your opinion is this a realistic deadline?
- Yes, according to the plans, construction will begin in 2018. The project has already received the first level of environmental protection licence and our partners have also applied for a site licence to the Hungarian nuclear authority. We trust that the European Commission will shortly grant the final approval for it and the implementation can begin.
When can we expect the tender process to start for the non-nuclear major equipment such as devices for the turbine island?
- It is quite early to talk about specific deadlines. The equipment and services tenders have been opened, and they will be transparent, in full compliance with European Union regulations. All interested parties including EU companies can participate. Of course, we expect a significant participation from Hungarian companies as well. The share of Hungarian suppliers could reach 40%.
Rosatom already has a Hungarian subsidiary, Ganz EEG Ltd. Are you planning to purchase further manufacturing facilities in Hungary?
- We will actively involve Ganz EEG Ltd. in the manufacture of pumps in Rosatom's Russian and foreign projects and other business areas. Since we own 100% of the company, we are able to modernise the company's equipment and introduce new technologies. We are not currently planning on buying any more Hungarian companies.
In addition to the Paks Nuclear Power Station, which Hungarian professional institutions do you cooperate with?
- During the 60 year old Hungarian-Russian nuclear energy partnership, many areas of cooperation have developed. We actively collaborate with MVM, and from the very beginning we have provided the Paks Power Plant with fuel and assisted with the maintenance of the power plant. We have developed a close relationship with educational establishments, scientific research institutions, academic institutions and other professional organisations. Therefore the capacity maintenance projects of Paks are a logical continuation of the Hungarian-Russian nuclear energy professionals' long standing cooperation. We highly appreciate our partnering relationships with our Hungarian colleagues. I am confident that our cooperation will develop further and extend to new areas - and other projects as well. Caption: Likhachev: We are ready to share our achievements in the field of fast neutron reactor development and operation with our foreign partners. Caption: Rosatom have received the highest number of orders for new power plants. Caption: According to Alexey Likhachev, they are building nuclear proof blocks.