Russia Plans to Have 45-50% of Its Electricity Supply Derive from Nuclear Power by 2050

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Russia Country Manager Michael Oshchepkov

Since the Russian state was formed in 1991, nuclear power has been playing an increasingly important role in the country’s economic development efforts. If in 1991 the share of nuclear power usage was about 11.2% in total Russia’s energy balance, in 2019 it amounted to 20.0%. This means that Russia is moving steadily forward with plans for expanding the role of nuclear energy (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Electricity generation by fuel, % of total

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020[1]

In total, there are 11 nuclear power plants in operation in Russia, consisting of 38 power units with an installed capacity of 30.3 GW. Most of them are located in the European part of the country (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Map of NPPs in the Russian Federation

Source: IAEA. Russian Federation Nuclear Power Profile[2]

Despite the fact that most of the operating nuclear power plants in Russia were commissioned before 1991 (back in the USSR), they use VVER-type reactors, which are considered one of the most high-tech and safest reactors in the world. The oldest station was built in 1967, the newest in 2010.

Figure 3 Status And Performance Of Nuclear Power Plants

NPPReactor UnitConstriction Date
AKADEMIK LOMONOSOV12007-04-15
22007-04-15
BALAKOVO11980-12-01
21981-08-01
31982-11-01
41984-04-01
BELOYARSK31969-01-01
42006-07-18
BILIBINO21970-01-01
31970-01-01
41970-01-01
KALININ11977-02-01
21982-02-01
31985-10-01
41986-08-01
KOLA11970-05-01
21970-05-01
31977-04-01
41976-08-01
KURSK11972-06-01
21973-01-01
31978-04-01
41981-05-01
LENINGRAD2-12008-10-25
21970-06-01
31973-12-01
41975-02-01
NOVOVORONEZH2-12008-06-24
2-22009-07-12
41967-07-01
51974-03-01
ROSTOV11981-09-01
21983-05-01
32009-09-15
42010-06-16
SMOLENSK11975-10-01
21976-06-01
31984-05-01

Source: IAEA. Russian Federation Nuclear Power Profile[3]

The latest Russian Federal Target Programme envisages a 25–30% nuclear share in electricity supply by 2030, 45–50% by 2050 and 70–80% by the end of the century. The 10 units now under construction, to be completed by 2030, are listed in Figure 4.

Figure 4 PLANNED NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

Reactor unitTypeCapacity, MW(e)Construction
start year
Expected commercial year
LENINGRAD II -2WWER-1200120020092022
LENINGRAD II -3WWER-1200120020112023
LENINGRAD II -4WWER-1200120020142024
Kursk II-1WWER-TOI125020182022
Kursk II-2WWER-TOI125020192023
Smolensk II-1WWER-TOI125020222027
Smolensk II-1WWER-TOI125020242029
Beloyarsk 5

 

BN-1200

 

125020252031

Source: IAEA. Russian Federation Nuclear Power Profile[4]

Thus, Russia is not only planning to expand nuclear energy usage but also planning to build a new type of power station by 2031. BN-1200 is expected to become a flagship fast reactor and a model for commercial fast reactors of the future. The new design will consume 50% less steel, the number of primary loop valves will be reduced from 500 to 90, and the piping will be 30% shorter.

Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in the Russian Federation operate reliably and safely, which is confirmed by the results of regular inspections by both independent bodies (Rostekhnadzor[5]) and international organizations (WANO[6], etc.). Since 1998, not a single safety violation classified above the first level of the INES International Scale[7] has been recorded at Russian NPPs.

At the same time, Russia is one of the few countries that stores and processes spent nuclear fuel. Russia has already accumulated more than 20 thousand tons of it with a reprocessing commercial capacity of 400 tons per year. The only enterprise that processes spent nuclear waste is “Mayak” (an enterprise in the closed city of Ozersk in the Chelyabinsk region). “Mayak” produces components for nuclear weapons, isotopes, systems for storing and regenerating spent nuclear fuel, and its disposal. The enterprise serves the Kola, Novovoronezh and Beloyarsk NPPs, and also processes nuclear fuel from nuclear submarines. The service life of most of the existing thermal reactors in Russia is gradually coming to an end. As they are replaced by nuclear power plants with fast neutron reactors, the spent nuclear waste will become easier and safer to process. The need to extract new uranium ore, the reserves of which are limited, will almost disappear. And thanks to the recycling of fuel, it will be possible to use existing reserves for a very long time. Russia will be able to generate electricity without producing additional greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

After the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, additional studies were carried out on possible emergency situations and ways to overcome them. Efforts were made to minimize the role of the human factor in crisis situations, and safety systems were modernized at old plants. As a result, all operating stations in our country have several systems that turn on one after the other in the event of a blackout situation, completely excluding the possibility of accident as took place in Japan in 2011. Finally, an automatic radiation monitoring system (ARMS) has been installed at all Russian nuclear power plants. It provides for the operation of sensors that record the level of radiation around radiation hazardous objects in real time.

[1] BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2020. Electricity generation. [online] Available at: <https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/xlsx/energy-economics/statistical review/bp-stats-review-2020-all-data.xlsx>.

[2] IAEA. Russian Federation Nuclear Power Profile. [online] Available at: <https://cnpp.iaea.org/countryprofiles/Russia/Russia.htm>

[3] Idem.

[4] Idem.

[5] The Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Supervision

[6] https://www.wano.info

[7] https://www.iaea.org/ru/publications/8446/ines-the-international-nuclear-and-radiological-event-scale-users-manual

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