Kazakhstan reaffirms nuclear power commitment

15 March 2012

Kazakhstan has not given up on its aim to build a nuclear power plant and intends to clarify its plans over the coming year, according to the country's ministers.

First Deputy Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov made the pledge during the presentation of a vision for the development of Kazakhstan's power industry to 2030 to the country's government. He spoke of intentions to follow up on a program which calls for 4.5% of Kazakhstan's total generation to be generated by nuclear power plants by 2030. "So this year we should settle this issue," he said.

Minister of industry and new technologies Asset Isekeshev confirmed that, although the construction of a nuclear power plant is very much on the agenda, it is seen as a long-term objective and that no decisions have yet been made on the type of reactor, the site or the timing of the project. Safety, and the selection of the best technology, would be major considerations, he said.

Kazakhstan can boast of being the world's leading producer of uranium, but does currently not have any nuclear power plants of its own. A Russian-supplied BN-350 fast reactor operated at Aktau on the Caspian Sea coast from 1972 to 1999. A project to build smaller Russian-designed nuclear reactors at Aktau has been under consideration for several years, and feasibility studies and environmental reviews have been carried out.

Plans for nuclear plants including large light-water reactors for the southern region, smaller units in western parts and smaller cogeneration units in regional cities have been under discussion for several years. In 2010 a trio of Japanese companies signed a memorandum of understanding on a feasibility study for the construction of a nuclear plant, with Lake Balkash in eastern Kazakhstan mooted as a likely location for a plant based on advanced boiling water reactor technology.

Overall the Kazakh government needs to invest a total of 9.5 trillion Tenge (about $64 billion) in its electricity sector by 2030, the government was told. This would include investments in new and replacement generation capacity, as well as modernisation of existing power plants and national grid developments. Isekeshev said investments in existing power plants of nearly 1.146 trillion Tenge ($7.8 billion) are planned by 2015.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News