Uzbekistan starts site selection process for first reactors

09 April 2019

Uzbekistan has initiated the process to choose a site for its first nuclear power plant and aims to grant a site licence in September 2020, local officials have confirmed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Uzbekistan is among about 30 countries that are considering, planning or actively working to include nuclear power into their energy mix.

The Milestones approach for nuclear power (Image: IAEA)

At the request of Uzbekistan's government, the IAEA and the newly established Nuclear Energy Development Agency UzAtom held a workshop in February in Tashkent on safety and non-safety aspects to be considered in siting and site evaluation for nuclear power plants, the Vienna-based agency said yesterday. The workshop with participation of UzAtom, the nuclear regulatory body and other relevant national organisations focused on IAEA safety review services, safety standards and other resources supporting  the siting and site evaluation for nuclear power plants.

"Embarking on a nuclear power programme requires a long-term commitment to nuclear safety that starts as soon as the decision to proceed is taken," said Greg Rzentkowski, director of the IAEA’s Division of Nuclear Installation Safety. "Two important steps early in the process are the establishment of an effective legal and regulatory framework and ensuring that potential sites are properly evaluated before being selected for a nuclear installation. The IAEA safety standards provide clear guidance in both areas, and we encourage all countries to apply them."

The workshop introduced the IAEA Milestones Approach for the development of a new nuclear power programme. It lists 'site and supporting facilities' as one of 19 nuclear infrastructure topics that would require action during the development of a nuclear power programme. In line with this, the IAEA provides integrated services, including on safety, security, legal and regulatory frameworks, human resource development, emergency planning and safeguards. These include peer reviews and advisory missions, such as the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review and the Site and External Events Design Review Service.

Jurabek Mirzakhmudov, director general of UzAtom, told World Nuclear News in December that current projections indicate Uzbekistan will need to double its electricity output by 2030 in order to meet demand. The country's parliament last year ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and is committed to "dramatically reducing" its use of natural gas for power generation. It now plans to make the country's transmission systems more efficient, to renovate its existing gas-fired and hydropower facilities, and to build new ones, and to adopt renewable energy sources such as solar. It has also have chosen to build a Russian-designed twin VVER unit nuclear power plant with a capacity of 2400 MWe. Mirzakhmudov said the plant is expected to generate about 15% of Uzbekistan’s power needs by 2030.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News