Uzbek lawmakers learn about Russian nuclear power

20 December 2018

The legislative chamber of Uzbekistan's parliament met with a delegation from Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom on 18 December and discussed the Central Asian country's plan to build its first nuclear power plant. Uzbek deputies visited the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in Russia between 12 and 14 December as part of this ambition, which was unveiled on 19 October by Uzbek and Russian presidents, Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Vladimir Putin.

Uzbek deputies and Rosatom representatives discuss nuclear energy policy (Image: Rosatom)

Uzbekistan is the world's seventh-ranking uranium supplier and has one operating research reactor, the WWR-SM, but it has no nuclear power plant.

According to a Rosatom statement, the deputy speaker of the legislative chamber, Boris Alikhanov, said a new stage of cooperation had begun between the two countries, and that this included the nuclear power sector.

The visit had included an introduction to unit 1 of Novovoronezh II plant, Russia's first VVER-1200 reactor, was connected to the grid in August 2016. Rosatom said that Novovoronezh II-1 is the reference unit for reactors that will be built at the proposed nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan.

"We visited the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant, where we got acquainted with its high-level professionals and technological progress there, and the sixth power unit - a Generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor. It seemed to us that the priority of the new technology used in this reactor is, above all safety, including environmental safety," Alikhanov said. The Uzbek delegation had also met with Novovoronezh City Council, which discussed the social and economic development of the city, he said.

Alexander Lokshin, Rosatom's first deputy director general for operational management, and the head of the Russian delegation, said Uzbekistan's decision to build its first nuclear power plant was the start of a process to establish an entire nuclear industry there.

"This is not simply a high-tech project; it's actually a big industry, which involves training and the formation of a legislative foundation. We're convinced that the condition for this industry is, above all, safety and social acceptability," Lokshin said.

"Public acceptance is directly related to the level of public awareness. When we started carrying out public opinion polls, which do now twice a year, we found a very interesting pattern - the closer the population surveyed lives to the nuclear power facility, the more positive their opinion about it is.

"Thus, in Novovoronezh, about 90% of the population has a positive attitude towards nuclear energy. Of course, this is because many residents of the city work directly at nuclear power plants and know about the safety of modern nuclear technologies from personal experience. And in Russia as a whole, over 70% of the population supports atomic energy," he said.

Rosatom said that, by having its first nuclear power plant, Uzbekistan will enable the country to save 3-3.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually and avoid the emission  of up to 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 36,000 tonnes of nitrogen dioxide. It will also provide more than 8000 jobs during the construction phase and about 2500 during operation.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News