Rosatom official outlines Uzbek project schedule

08 January 2019

Rosatom expects a site to be selected for Uzbekistan's first nuclear power plant by the end of March and a construction contract to be signed by the end of this year.

Russia and Uzbekistan signed a cooperation agreement in September 2018 to build a nuclear power plant in the republic. The documents were signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Uzbek counterpart Abdulla Aripov (Image: Rosatom)

In an interview last month with news agency, Alexander Lokshin, Rosatom's first deputy director general for operational management, also said construction of the plant itself was expected to start at the end of 2021. The Russian state nuclear corporation published a transcript of the interview on its website.

Uzbekistan’s ambition to include nuclear power in its energy mix was unveiled last October by Uzbek and Russian presidents, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Vladimir Putin.

"Active work is under way in Uzbekistan to find a site for the country's first nuclear power plant, and measures have been launched to prepare the legislative framework necessary for the construction of the station and cooperation between Uzbekistan and Russia in the field of nuclear energy," Lokshin said.

"We expect that by the end of March a decision on the choice of the site will be made. By the time that detailed surveys for the project have been completed, which according to the plan should happen by the end of 2019, a contract for the construction work will be signed," he added.

This will mark the start of the preparatory phase, he said, which includes construction of an "industrial base", with the required residential buildings and infrastructure. "We hope to start construction of the nuclear power plant itself at the end of 2021, beginning of 2022, after obtaining the appropriate licence from the regulatory body of Uzbekistan," he said.

The construction period is scheduled for 2022-2028.

"I’m not that concerned about whether we are able to meet these deadlines because we already have the relevant experience. In addition, we will be building a serial project, for which the reference plant is Novovoronezh," he said.

"We are building a lot [of plants] around the world and by the time we reach the construction stage of the Uzbek nuclear power plant, we will have even more experience. But the duration of the preliminary period in each country is unique. We often say that the construction of the first nuclear power plant in a country is the creation of a new industry itself. Much of the success and timing of this process depends on the level of intercountry cooperation [and] we rate the level of cooperation between our [two] countries very highly. We are ready to provide maximum assistance in the formation of regulatory bodies, the operating organisation, and the creation of a legislative and regulatory framework for the nuclear industry."

Rosatom presented the first draft of its proposed contract for the project on 17 December to Jurabek Mirzakhmudov, director general of UzAtom, the state nuclear agency which was established in July last year.

“Our Uzbek colleagues will study the document in detail with the assistance of consultants and several thematic working groups will be created. Our goal is to make sure that after signing the contract, neither of the parties feels that its interests have not been fully taken into account. This is very important even with the best of relationships," Lokshin said.

The "optimal ratio" of types of generation depends on the specific conditions in each country, he said.

"Some have gas, some don't; some have the wind blowing and the sun shining 365 days a year, and some have constant rain and snow. In some places you need to use renewable energy sources more, in others less, and some have coal or hydro resources. In every case, the electricity generation portfolio should be diversified in order to minimise the influence of external factors," he said.

"For example, the wind might stop blowing for some time and the use of gas will rise sharply; coal, in addition to producing emissions, is becoming more expensive to produce, while hydro resources are also limited. In this sense, the main advantage of nuclear energy is that it is predictable for a very long period.”

The service life of nuclear power plants is 60 years with a "real possibility" of extending this to 80 years, he said.

"The cost of electricity production at nuclear power plants depends very little on the cost of fuel, because the share of the latter does not exceed 10%. If the uranium price goes up by 2-3 times, then the cost of electricity will increase by only 2-3%. But for gas generation, for example, the share of gas in the cost of electricity production reaches 80%. Therefore, a doubling of gas prices - which is quite realistic in the foreseeable future - will lead to an increase in the cost of electricity by one-and-a-half times, and that is already very significant."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News