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Russia beats West in race for Czech nuclear contract

Russia's leading nuclear fuel producer Tvel has won the contract to supply the Czech Republic's biggest atomic power plant Temelin to 2020.

At a ceremony to reveal the first fuel rod for testing, its chief scientist told Russia Today how the firm plans to expand into the world's most industrialised nations.

Tvel announces the introduction of specially-made nuclear fuel for the Temelin reactor.

The reliability of these fuel rods beat off competition from Britain's BNFL and previous supplier Westinghouse.

Commercial Director of Tvel Andrey Bukhovtsev said he hoped the upgraded Russian fuel could “solve the Temelin problems with fuel rod deformations.”

“Our TVSA assemblies are stronger than the Americans' and have a long successful history in Russia. We believe that now it is the best fuel for VVER reactors in the world,” Bukhovtsev said.

The fuel will now be tested at Skoda nuclear supplies factory before moving to Temelin.

Tvel's Chief Scientist Alexey Dolgov said he was “proud to be back” in Temelin, a facility built in the 1980s by Russian specialists.

“Russia now participates in tenders throughout Asia. However EU quotas on Russian uranium imports are hurting us,” he said.

With oil and gas prices nearing an all-time high, nuclear appears to be leading the field for a bigger portion of the world's energy mix. State-owned Tvel now supplies 17% of the world's nuclear fuel market, mainly in Eastern Europe.

The next step is to enter the most industrialized nations' market. Development agreements have already been signed with rivals Westinghouse and France's Areva.

Russia's nuclear technology is once again on the rise. Last year Tvel won back contracts lost in the 1990s to America's Westinghouse in the Czech Republic, Finland and, most painfully of all, Russia itself.

The firm's goal is to have 25% of the world market by 2020. In so doing, it will return Russia to a world-leading position in the nuclear industry.