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11 Oct, 2007 15:33

Russia aims for nuclear industry development

Russia is pushing forward with plans for energy alternatives to oil and gas. The number of nuclear power plants is set to double in the coming years, while a bill has been passed that will see a state-owned corporation uniting the entire industry.

Halted after the Chernobyl blast, the construction of NPPs is now gathering pace, with two reactors initiated every year. To promote a new, clean and safe image of the industry, the head of the country’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy, Sergey Kirienko, has even taken a dive in a lake which is located near a nuclear power station.
“This lake is absolutely clean and safe, even though it’s close to a nuclear power station,” Mr Kirienko commented.
Sergey Kirienko is trying to persuade State Duma deputies that the nuclear industry is what Russia needs. However to develop it, the state has to gather all its nuclear assets under one umbrella.
“The goal is to create a state-owned corporation uniting all branches of the nuclear industry, including the military segment, power generation, science and safety,” Mr Kirienko insisted.
The move will allow the centralisation not only of power but also of money. Profits generated by the industry will stay within it in order to finance new projects.
In addition to building scores of nuclear reactors at home, Russia also hopes to secure at least a 20% share of the international nuclear market. But the idea of exporting Russian know-how met with some criticism.
“We shouldn’t build nuclear stations abroad, let’s just sell them electricity. It’s better than selling oil and gas,” claimed Vladimir Zhirinovsky, State Duma deputy.
“Well, if we have a choice, then indeed it’s better to sell electricity than building stations, but we cannot export electricity to Latin America or India – the cost is too high – but we do need their markets,” responded Sergey Kirienko.
The bill was approved in the first reading. The next reading in the State Duma is scheduled for November. If the second and the third ones go as smoothly as the first, Russia’s state nuclear corporation could be created before the end of the year.