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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges APPENDIX C THE STRATEGY OF NUCLEAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN RUSSIA By Alexander Bychkov Nuclear power engineering development is envisioned as an integral part of the Russian Federation’s energy strategy, and Russia is now taking several steps to further develop and expand its use of nuclear power. Russia is investing in construction of several nuclear power plants, including both pressurized water reactors (VVERs) and a liquid-metal cooled fast reactor (the BN-800). A prototype of a compact, portable (floating) nuclear power plant has also been built. Russia has also “reconstructed and reorganized its whole nuclear enterprise, consolidating and reorganizing nearly all of the nuclear functions into a state-owned corporation. In addition, the nation is working to develop new reactors and new closed fuel cycles. The strategy for nuclear power engineering development in the first half of the 21st century is based on the following principles: nuclear fuel breeding, comprehensive safety, and competitiveness. Projections vary, but energy demands in Russia are expected to increase by 50 percent between 2006 and 2016, and rise to double the 2006 level by 2020. Demand for electricity is expected to grow more slowly (rising 50% by 2020, and 100% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels), but still steadily and strongly. The Strategy for Development in the Russian Nuclear Power Sector from 2007 to 2015 provides for implementation and growth of several federal programs, as well as enacting of the law on restructuring of the civil branch of the nuclear power sector, which was passed in early 2008. The Rosatom Corporation is now established and establishment of Atomenergoprom is to be completed in 2008, thus incorporating all parts of nuclear manufacturing cycle, from uranium mining and enrichment, reactor design and construction, and power plant design, construction and operation. Nuclear power’s contribution to the energy strategy can be achieved through several investments for near-term and longer-term results. In October 2006, the Russian Federation accepted the Federal Task Program “Development of Russia’s Atomic Power Complex from 2007 − 2010, and to 2015.” This spelled out the directions of nuclear power development into the future: (1) development of nuclear power capacities, (2) development and renovation of fuel cycle capacities, (3) development of capacities on management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes of nuclear power plants and preparation of nuclear reactors for decommissioning, and (4) transition to innovative nuclear technologies. For very near-term results, the current set of nuclear power plants can be maintained and operated more effectively, including upgrading and extending the lifetime of the operating power units; increasing their efficiency and maximum utilization of capacities (load or capacity factor);
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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges and design and construction of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste facilities so that power-plant operations are not inhibited by accumulation of these materials. At present, 31 reactors operate at 10 nuclear power plants in Russia (see Figure C-1 for the locations of these and future nuclear power plants). Beginning in 2007, each year Russia plans to initiate construction of at least two nuclear power units with a combined capacity of about two gigawatts electric (GWe). By 2015, the Russian Federation plans to invest approximately 1.5 trillion rubles in the design and construction of new NPPs. If this schedule is kept, 10 new nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 9.8 GWe will be put into operation by 2015, raising the total nuclear generating capacity in Russia from its current level of 23.2 GWe to 33 GWe. This would increase the nuclear power share of Russia’s nuclear generating capacity to an estimated 18.6%. Beyond 2015, the plans are even more ambitious: construction of between three and four nuclear power units annually. By 2030, the goal is for nuclear power plants to generate 25% of Russia’s electricity. Figures C-2 and C-3 illustrate the planned growth. With such significant expansion of its use of nuclear power, Russia has concluded that it should develop a systematic solution to problems concerning spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. FIGURE C-1 Locations of existing and planned future nuclear power plants in the Russian Federation.
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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges FIGURE C-2 Planned schedule for commissioning new nuclear power reactors in the Russian Federation.
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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges FIGURE C-3. Planned contributions of different reactor types to nuclear power generation in the Russian Federation through 2050. Applying fast reactor technology with a closed fuel cycle extends the resource potential of the nuclear power fuel supply. Future nuclear power engineering can develop based on fast-reactor technology. Russia has unique experience in the development and operation of fast reactor nuclear power plants: 20-year successful operation of the BN-350 and operating BN-600 unit 3 at Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant. Russia is now building on its experience with fast reactors by starting a closed fuel cycle with the BN-600 and BN-800 reactors. Preparation of a hybrid core for the BN-600 with MOX fuel was initiated in 2007. This plan is illustrated in Figure C-4. Production of MOX fuel for the BN-800 is planned to begin in 2011, a year before the BN-800 is scheduled to start up. In the period from 2016 to 2018, Russia’s plans call for implementation of semi-industrial BN-800 closed fuel cycle technologies (see Figure C-5). A fully industrial-scale fast reactor with a closed fuel cycle is planned between 2018 and 2020.
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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges FIGURE C-4 Planned fueling of the BN-600 reactor using highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium already in storage. FIGURE C-5 Planned closed fuel cycles involving the BN-600 and BN-800 reactors.
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Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges In late 2007, several key decisions were made regarding Russia’s future fuel cycles. First, it was decided that MOX-fuel production would be based on pyroelectrochemical methods and vibropacking moving toward closing the fuel cycle with compact, dry technologies for recycling spent nuclear fuel and simplified technologies of fuel-pin manufacture, developed at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR). The goals for the closed fuel cycles under development are: minimization of expenses for spent fuel recycling, fuel pins refabrication and waste treatment; minimization of radioactive waste volume and complete recycle of minor-actinides for transmutation in the same system; exclusion of pure fissile materials (plutonium) from recycling technologies; and arrangement of all procedures in remote systems. To assist with the development of new fuel cycles, new facilities and activities are planned. These include design and construction in Dimitrovgrad of a new, multi-functional fast test reactor−sodium cooled with autonomous loops−for testing of fuels, materials and technologies. Pilot and industrial facilities for fuel production (including MOX fuel) and investigations of fuel cycle processes (test-demonstration centers for aqueous and dry processes) will be created. Generation IV demonstration reactor systems are also planned under the New Federal Task Program from 2008 (“Nuclear Energy Technologies of New Generation”).