A Far-Sighted Step, a Visionary Project
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On July 10, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting to discuss the implementation of organizational and technical measures to create a completely new sphere for our country – atomic energy.
To the question why nuclear power is needed, experts answer: it is essential in order to raise the technological standards of the country; the development of nuclear energy will allow humanity to prepare a springboard for a future scientific and technological breakthrough; in the long term, the stocks of organic fuel will decrease, so humanity today needs to develop nuclear power and prepare a foothold for the future development of civilization.
This is the opinion of the proponents of nuclear energy, but there are enough opponents of the development of this sphere, which constantly remind of Chernobyl or Fukushima. In this regard, I want to quote the opinion of a British businessman, a green activist, the author of several books on carbon-free technologies, Chris Goodall: “Fukushima is a terrible disaster, but we can reasonably expect that no one will die from radiation leaks. Yes, nuclear energy is very expensive, but this is true for all technologies with low carbon dioxide emissions. Studies prove that the use of atomic energy requires less expenditure than the use of wind energy. Moreover, nuclear power plants produce energy all the year round, regardless of the weather conditions.” Speaking about the advantages of nuclear power plants over thermal and hydroelectric power stations, experts note their obviousness: there is no waste, no gas emissions, no need to conduct huge amounts of construction, erect dams and bury fertile land on the bоttom of reservoirs. The prime cost of electricity produced by nuclear power plants today allows us to talk about serious competition from other types of power plants on their part.
The World Nuclear Association’s “Report on the existing atomic energy for 2017” notes that the amount of electricity produced at nuclear power plants in Asia today is twice as high as 30 years ago. Over the past 10 years, the reactor stock has more than doubled in India and Pakistan and more than tripled in China. As a percentage, the share of nuclear generation in Asia currently stands at 18% of the total 2,476 TWh.
The report also recalls that within the framework of the Harmony program put forward by the World Nuclear Association, the task is set that nuclear generation by 2050 would provide 25% of the world’s electricity production. A number of Asian countries that do not yet have operating or NPPs under construction have plans, proposals or contracts already concluded for their construction. Uzbekistan is among them. So how did it all begin?
On 2 November 2017, following the visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Uzbekistan, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the State Corporation Rosatom and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as a contract for the production and supply of nuclear fuel for the ВВР-СМ research reactor between the fuel company TVEL of Rosatom and the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
On December 29, 2017, an agreement was signed between the governments of Russia and Uzbekistan on cooperation in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The establishment and improvement of the national infrastructure, the training of personnel for the nuclear energy of Uzbekistan, the construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors in the country, as well as their support throughout the life cycle, the exploration and development of uranium deposits with the study of the country’s mineral resource base are identified as promising for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation.
On 19 April 2018, during the opening of the Kandym Gas Processing Complex, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that the active involvement of foreign direct investment in the fuel and energy industry and the Kandym Gas Processing Complex itself are “another bright embodiment of cooperation between Uzbekistan and Russia”. He also said that an agreement on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the region will be signed with the Russian Federation before the end of this year.
Within the framework of the Tashkent International Power Uzbekistan Exhibition on 16 May 2018, the Russian State Corporation Rosatom first presented an exhibition stand with a presentation of its latest technologies. The central place in the exposition was occupied by the construction of the nuclear power plant. Rosatom presents an integrated proposal that includes not only the construction of nuclear power plants based on the latest Russian technologies, but also the creation of nuclear infrastructure in the customer country, the training and retraining of national personnel, localization of production in the territory of the state, fuel supply, maintenance of nuclear power plants and assistance in its operation. “We present the latest technologies at the exhibition, which Rosatom uses in the design and construction of nuclear power plants. In addition to the comprehensive and safest supply in nuclear energy, we also present in Uzbekistan numerous solutions for key economic sectors such as gas and petrochemical, thermal power, hydropower, medicine, agriculture and others,” said the president of the Rusatom-International Network Alexander Merten.
On 30 May 2018, the leader of Uzbekistan received the Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev. Within the framework of the visit, a discussion of the preparation of an agreement on the construction of a nuclear power plant was held. The Russian side proposed to build a station in Uzbekistan from two modern generation blocks.
During the above-mentioned meeting in Tashkent on July 10, with the participation of the head of our state, it was noted that the need for electricity in Uzbekistan is 69 billion kWh. Almost 85% of this energy is produced by processing gas and coal, the remaining 15% is generated at hydroelectric power plants. For this purpose, 16.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 86,000 tons of fuel oil and 2.3 million tons of coal are burned annually.
By 2030, owing to the growth of the national economy and population as well as the standards of life, the demand for power will reach 117 billion kWh. And this will require additional capacities.
“If we continue to use natural gas and coal to generate the necessary energy, then after a certain time, their available supply can simply be exhausted. And this will become an irreparable mistake and a crime against future generations,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said.
Therefore, an agreement on the construction of a nuclear power plant was reached with the Russian State Corporation Rosatom. This complex will consist of two power units with a capacity of 1 thousand 200 megawatts each. It is planned to fully use it until 2028.
The construction of the nuclear power plant will allow annually to save 3.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas. As a result of its processing, petrochemical products with higher added value will be produced. And if the saved gas is exported even without processing, then it will bring to Uzbekistan 550-600 million dollars a year.
Atomic energy is an environmentally friendly form of energy. The stations that use it do not produce harmful carbon monoxide. As a result, the volume of carbon monoxide produced by burning natural gas will decrease by 3 million tons a year.
The editor-in-chief of the journal Nuclear Club, Anton Khlopkov: Uzbekistan has a base for the creation of the atomic sphere – it is bоth personnel and the uranium.
The head of our state gave the necessary instructions to study the experience of developed countries in the construction of such facilities, the development of technical conditions for the location of the potential nuclear power plant, as well as the qualitative performance of geological exploration.
It was noted that it is necessary to create a regulatory and legal framework in a new area for our country, to draft an Atomic Energy Use Act and relevant resolutions, to ensure their compliance with IAEA requirements and international documents.
“It is necessary to create a new organization under the Cabinet of Ministers to coordinate the work in this direction, the preparation of documents, implementation of work on the design and conduct of negotiations. At the same time, under this organization it is necessary to form a directorate for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Subsequently, the directorate would become the operator of the nuclear power plant,” President Mirziyoyev said.
Complex advanced technologies are known to be used in the construction and use of nuclear power plants. And this requires highly qualified specialists with in-depth knowledge. To this end, it is planned to open a branch of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, one of the world’s leading universities in the field of physics, in Tashkent.
There are also instructions for selecting prospective staff who graduated from universities in the areas of physics and technology, sending them to study in universities and training for nuclear power plants in Moscow and Minsk.
“In general, we will create an entirely new system for the implementation of this project, and there will not be any bureaucratic obstacles in this direction,” said the head of our state, “because this grandiose and visionary project aimed at using environmentally friendly and safe energy will serve the development of our country’s economy, further improvement of people’s well-being.”
For the further peaceful coexistence of society and nuclear power, mutual trust is necessary, if not to change the psychology of society, then there are no other capacities for a rapid increase in energy production in the world. The head of Rosatom, too, does not claim that nuclear energy is the best energy. Each energy has its advantages and disadvantages: “If we are talking about the energy of the future (and such energy will emerge), it is now difficult to say whether this is thermonuclear energy or hydrogen energy, then a step towards it in technology, in terms of knowledge, in the qualifications of specialists goes through the development of nuclear energy. The country, which is turning off nuclear energy today, becomes dependent in the future from those who will not turn it down.”