First SMRs for Export
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#278July 2024

First SMRs for Export

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Rosatom signed a contract to build a Russian-­designed small modular reactor nuclear power plant (SNPP) in Uzbekistan. This is the world’s first export contract for the construction of an advanced SNPP.

Contract ins and outs

“Having signed the first ever export contract for the construction of a small-­scale nuclear power plant, Rosatom once again reaffirmed its undisputed leadership in the global nuclear power sector. This is not a provisional agreement — ​we will start the construction immediately, as soon as this summer,” Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev commented on the signing.

The contract was concluded during the state visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Uzbekistan. Before striking the deal, the parties signed a protocol on expanding the scope of the intergovernmental agreement that sets the framework for cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan. The agreement now covers an SNPP. The construction project will be fully financed by Uzbekistan, no loans from the Russian government are discussed, Alexey Likhachev emphasized when speaking on Russian television.

Why the country needs a nuclear plant

The nuclear power plant to be built in Uzbekistan will be a source of baseload electricity for the country’s energy system. The first unit is scheduled to go critical in late 2029. The units will be commissioned one by one.

According to estimates, Uzbekistan’s demand for power will almost double by 2050. “We see interest in nuclear new build growing all over the world, in both large nuclear power plants and small modular reactors. We believe that broader cooperation with Rosatom will strengthen our energy sector with advanced nuclear power technologies,” commented Azim Akhmedkhadjaev, Director of the Agency for the Development of Nuclear Energy (UzAtom) under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

On the site

The project provides for the construction of a 330 MW nuclear power plant in the Jizzakh Region of Uzbekistan. The plant will operate six 55 MW small modular reactors. With AtomStroyExport (ASE) to act as the general contractor, local companies will also be extensively involved in the nuclear construction project.

Engineering surveys have been conducted on the site to confirm its fitness for the nuclear power plant. According to ASE, on-site construction works are scheduled to begin in September with land surveying and setting up a construction camp and infrastructure.

Tried and tested

The reactors mentioned in the agreement are water-­cooled water-­moderated RITM‑200 reactors with the service life of 60 years. The work on the reactor design began in 2001 at OKBM Afrikantov. The most important advantages of RITM‑200 are a small-size steam generating unit integrated into the reactor, a higher-­energy core, and a steam generator with a compact heat exchange surface. The safety and control systems comply with the latest inherent safety and environment protection requirements and are easy to operate.

Since 2012, ten RITM‑200 reactors have been manufactured for five Russian Project 22220 multi-­purpose nuclear icebreakers. Six reactors are installed on the Arktika, Sibir and Ural icebreakers, which are already in operation. Construction of the other two, Yakutia and Chukotka, is nearing completion.

RITM‑200 reactors will also be installed on the floating power units to supply power to the Baimsky GOK mining site in Chukotka. An onshore modification of the same reactor design, RITM‑200N, will be used at Unit 1 of the Yakutian SNPP.

SNPPs in demand

Other countries are also interested in Russian-­designed small modular reactors. In late May this year, the Russian government approved a draft agreement on the basic principles of cooperation in the construction of a small-­scale nuclear power plant in Myanmar. It envisages the construction of an SNPP with a minimal capacity of 110 MW electrical in this country. The plant will be equipped with Russian water-­cooled water-­moderated reactors. Developed by Rosatom and agreed with Myanmar representatives, the document was approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other federal executive bodies concerned.

SNPPs with RITM‑200 reactors are not the only technology of interest for other countries. Late this May, Alexey Likhachev held a regular meeting with Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy. They met in Seversk, at the construction site of the demonstration power production facility that will consist of a lead-cooled fast neutron BREST‑300-OD reactor and on-site spent fuel reprocessing and fresh fuel fabrication/refabrication units, which are built under the Proryv (Russian for ‘breakthrough’) Project. According to the IAEA classification, BREST-OD‑300 is classified as a low-power reactor (up to 300 MW). 

News from the Yakutian SNPP

In May, the Russian environment agency Rosprirodnadzor issued a positive expert opinion on the Yakutian SNPP construction project. Currently, a temporary construction camp for 1,500 employees is being set up near the town of Ust-­Kuiga, with an access road being built to connect the town with the SNPP site and construction yard.