Rosenergoatom was Russia’s top power generator in 2020, Rosatom commissions largest wind farm

Rosenergoatom was Russia's top power generator in 2020, Rosatom commissions largest wind farm

Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s electric power division Rosenergoatom has announced it was Russia’s largest power generating company last year that also marked the 75th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry. A Rosenergoatom statement said that ts nuclear power plants (NPPs) generated over 215.746 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity during 2020.

“We ended 2020 with an absolute record in the entire history of the Russian nuclear industry, previously achieved only during the Soviet era in 1988. Then, all NPPs produced a total of 215.669 billion kWh (including nuclear power plants in Ukraine, Lithuania and Armenia),” Rosenergoatom Director General Andrey Petrov said.

Russian NPPs not only broke the Soviet record with these numbers, but also surpassed their own achievement of 2019 (208.7 billion kWh) by more than 7 billion kWh, the statement said.

Rosenergoatom currently has 37 power units. Leningrad NPP Unit 6 with a VVER-1200 reactor is being prepared for commissioning in 2021.

The Rostov NPP with over 32.8 billion kWh, the Balakovo NPP with over 30.6 billion kWh, and the Kalinin NPP with over 28.4 billion kWh provided the maximum output among the
Russian nuclear plants and made the largest contribution to this record, it said.

Despite the decrease in electricity demand due to the reduction in industrial production associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, these significant results were made feasible thanks to the implementation of a number of measures such as maintenance of stable, safe and reliable operation of nuclear power units, cohesive work of all teams in the control loop enterprises, as well as timely measures taken by the industry leadership to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, the statement added.

“The main factors that played a large role in increasing electricity generation were, among other things, the duration of repair campaigns being optimized by 130.5 days, which provided an additional 2.4 billion kWh, as well as transitioning from a 12-month to 18-month fuel (overhaul) cycle of the Novovoronezh NPP Unit 6”, the company said.

In addition, a floating nuclear thermal power plant (FNPP) was put into full commercial operation in Chukotka in May 2020. It has generated about 127.3 million kWh since the beginning of the year. Moreover, the new state-of-the-art VVER-1200 Unit 6 at the Leningrad NPP was connected to the country’s power grid in October.

The share of nuclear generation makes up about 19 percent of the total electricity produced in the country.

Rosatom’s Kochubeevskaya wind farm enters wholesale market

Meanwhile, as part of its strategy of diversification into other areas of clean energy, Rosatom also commissioned Russia’s largest wind farm – the Kochubeevskaya WPP – in December 2020.

A Rosatom statement said that since January 2021, the Kochubeevskaya wind farm has been supplying electricity to Russia’s wholesale electricity and capacity market.

“In addition to becoming Russia’s largest operating wind farm, Kochubeevskaya is the second project to be completed by JSC NovaWind, Rosatom’s division responsible for implementing wind energy projects,” the statement said.

Situated in the Stavropol Territory, the Kochubeevskaya wind farm consists of 84 wind turbines and has an installed capacity of 210 MW. As per Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, 65 percent of the farm’s production and assembly benefited from localised sourcing, the statement added

“We were able to become a serial wind farm producer and realise the construction of the Kochubeevskaya WPP project in just two years thanks to our extensive experience in building and operating wind power plants, the successful implementation of our plan to produce wind turbine components and assemble them in a series in Russia, and our efficient supply chain, which includes Rosatom’s various enterprises,” said NovaWind Director General Alexander Korchagin.

Rosatom is currently implementing its plan to build wind farms at three more sites in the Stavropol Territory and the Rostov Region. By 2024, the company is expected to have commissioned wind power plants with a total capacity of about 1.2 gigawatt (GW).

India’s first indigenously built 700 MW reactor connected to grid

India's first indigenously built 700 MW reactor connected to grid
India's own 700 MW reactor goes critical at Kakrapar. Photo: Wikipedia

India’s first fully indigenously built 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) was synchronised with the grid at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) in Gujarat state earlier this week, according to an announcement by a senior official. Unit 3 of the KAPP operated by the state-run Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL), which achieved its first criticality, or controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction, in July last year, was connected to the grid on January 10, 2021.

The former Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Anil Kakodkar told Nuclear Asia in this regard that he was extremely pleased about the grid connection of KAPP unit 3, which recorded a global first in attaining criticality during the year of the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. “Kakrapar 3 is a true example of indigenous technology developed and built in India with with fifteen more such units to follow in fleet mode”, Kakodkar said.

“Since achieving criticality in July last year, the unit 3 has undergone numerous tests to prove its compatibility with the grid. Now grid-connected, the unit will continue to undergo tests till it is capable of starting commercial operations,” the former AEC Chairman said. “The success of this 700 MW unit comes on the back of India’s nuclear programme that has earlier put on stream indigenously designed reactors with capacities of up to 540 MW”, he added.

Kakrapar 1 and 2 – both Indian-designed PHWRs of 220 MW each – entered commercial operation in 1993 and 1995, respectively. The 700 MW unit 4 at Kakrapar is currently under construction. The Indian government approved plans for the first four of eight planned 700 MWe PHWR units using indigenous technology – Kakrapar units 3 and 4, and Rajasthan units 7 and 8 in Rajasthan state in 2007. The approval for construction and finance was granted in 2009.

In an interview last July, NPCIL Chairman S.K. Sharma had described the criticality attained for KAPP unit 3 as a historic moment, as it is the first of its kind 700 MW PHWR designed by Indian scientists and engineers. “It is unique in that it is our first 700 MW reactor equipped with equipment manufactured indigenously and erected by Indian contractors,” he said. “The mainstay of our nuclear programme, which is now more than half-a-century old, started with reactors with a capacity of 220 MW, which was subsequently increased to 540 MW, and now we have manufactured this 700 MW optimal capacity reactor as our mainstay,” he added. KAPP unit 3 became the country’s 23rd completed reactor.

Elaborating on the near-decade long construction period for unit 3, Sharma said that achieving criticality for 700 MW capacity with totally indigenous capability is not simply a question of “multiplying megawatts” “The entire reactor has been redesigned, concepts have been changed, while the manufacturing of components has faced many challenges, which the local manufacturers have met very competently,” he said. “The new reactor is a first of its kind, and a huge learning curve was involved for the designers, the manufacturers, as well as the construction companies, so it took them more time than earlier”, he added.

Besides, he pointed out the delay caused by the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima (Japan) on account of the tsunami, which necessitated a review of safety measures. “We conducted a review of safety measures, paused work in Kakrapar, changed the design in line with the global reviews of safety measures, and, thereafter, incorporated these changes in design for Kakrapar 3 and 4,” he said.

According to Sharma, “safety is our first, second and third priority”. “A safe reactor is a productive reactor, since it is also a reliable reactor. We are employing all the latest, state-of the art safety features in our reactors and have incorporated a lot of both passive and active safety features in our design”, he said.

Noting that Indian reactors have not suffered the kind of accidents comparable to Fukushima, Chernobyl (ex-USSR), or Three Mile Island (US), Sharma said the NPCIL has ensured that India continues to maintain its spotless record on nuclear safety. KAPP-3 has several safety features like a steel-lined inner containment, passive decay heat removal system and a containment spray system, among others.

The Indian government has earlier approved the fleet mode construction of ten PHWRs, each of 700 MW capacity, at a total estimated cost of $16.3 billion. The fleet mode of construction of multiple units ensures standardisation, lower costs and speeding up the setting up of nuclear power plants in the country.

The NPCIL Chairman announced last year that India will construct ten new PHWR units in the fleet mode, thereby facilitating procurement activities, manufacturing and construction of these units. The 10 planned reactors are units 5 and 6 at the Kaiga in Karnataka state, units 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, 4 units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and units 1 and 2 at Gorakhpur in Haryana.

Three other PHWRs are already under construction – Kakrapar unit 4, and Rajasthan 7 and 8 in Rajasthan. India currently has 22 reactors in operation with a total capacity of 6,780 MW. Eight reactors are under construction with a combined capacity of 6,200 MW. On completion of these under construction, NPCIL’s capacity will reach 12,980 MW by 2025.

BHEL wins huge order from India’s nuclear operator for 32 reactor head assemblies

India's Kudankulam NPP to get advanced fuel allowing longer fuel cycle

India’s state-run electrical equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd announced earlier this month that it has won an order from the government-owned operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the supply of 32 reactor header assemblies for country’s indigenously-developed 700 MW pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) to be set up at four different locations.

In a statement, BHEL said that this was the first order placed under NPCIL’s Fleet Mode Procurement programme that will help significantly boost Indian domestic manufacturing.

The Indian government has earlier approved the fleet mode construction of ten PHWRs of 700 MW capacity each at a total estimated cost of $16.3 billion. The fleet mode of construction of multiple units ensures standardisation, lower costs and speeding up the setting up of nuclear power plants in the country.

BHEL said it has been associated with all the three stages of the Indian nuclear power programme as the primary supplier to NPCIL for reactor headers, steam turbines, steam generators, motors and other equipment. Till date, all the reactor header assemblies for 700 MW PHWR projects in India have been supplied by BHEL. Besides, some 75 percent of PHWR plants in the country are equipped with BHEL-supplied turbine and generator sets.

The NPCIL Chairman S.K. Sharma announced last year that India will construct ten new PHWR units in the fleet mode, thereby facilitating procurement activities, manufacturing and construction of these units. The 10 planned reactors are units 5 and 6 at the Kaiga in Karnataka state, units 1 and 2 at Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, 4 units at Mahi Banswara in Rajasthan and units 1 and 2 at Gorakhpur in Haryana.

In July last year, India achieved criticality with its first indigenously built 700 MW PHWR for the Kakrapar unit 3 in Gujarat state. Three other PHWRs are already under construction – Kakrapar unit 4, and Rajasthan 7 and 8 in Rajasthan. India currently has 22 reactors in operation with a total capacity of 6,780 MW. 8 reactors are under construction with a combined capacity of 6,200 MW. On completion of these under construction, NPCIL’s capacity will reach 12,980 MW by 2025.

In addition, the government has given administrative approval and financial sanction for 12 new reactors with a total capacity of 9,000 MW. India’s current nuclear power capacity is expected to increase to 22,480 MW by 2031 on the completion of these proposed projects.

Nuclear energy is set to make a comeback as more nuclear power projects (NPPs) are planned in future with improved designs, lower costs, better safety features and lower waste management concerns, India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman K.N. Vyas told mediapersons last year.

“To increase standardisation and bring modularity into the construction of new plants, we are going in for fleet mode for construction, thereby reducing costs and speeding up construction times. Seventeen new reactors are now in the pipeline, with seven already under construction,” Vyas said. “A revised target of 20 gigawatts (GW) has been set till the end of next decade, which I think is highly attainable. In my opinion, the financial outlay is expected to be staggering enough to encourage most industrialists,” he said.

“It does appear that with the increasing pressure to meet the decarbonisation requirement, nuclear shall eventually make a comeback with improved designs, lower costs, better safety features and lower waste management concerns, making them attractive propositions once again, especially in view of the intermittency of wind and solar energies,” Vyas added.

The Minister for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh has said that NPPs need to be spread across the country. “Atomic power plants were restricted in southern India. Now the government is setting up nuclear plants in other parts of the country,” Singh had announced.

Currently two Russian-made VVER units of 1,000 MW capacity each are operating at the Kudankulam NPP (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu state. Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom are the equipment suppliers and technical consultants for KNPP, where 4 more VVER-1000 units are under construction. As per an intergovernmental agreement, Rosatom will also help construct 6 more units in India at another location.

Korea’s ‘artificial sun’ KSTAR sets world record in plasma operation of 100 mn degrees for 20 seconds

Korea’s ‘artificial sun’ KSTAR sets world record in plasma operation of 100 mn degrees for 20 seconds

At the end of the year that saw the start of machine assembly of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), or the world’s largest nuclear fusion project, being assembled in France to replicate the fusion power of the sun to enable generation of clean unlimited energy, South Korea’s magnetic fusion device Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) set a new record by reaching the temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for a period of 20 seconds.

It was announced last month that in late November 2020, the KSTAR Research Center at the Korea Institute of Fusion Energy (KFE), in a joint research with the Seoul National University (SNU) and Columbia University of the US, had succeeded in continuous operation of plasma for 20 seconds with an ion temperature higher than 100 million degrees. In comparative terms, KSTAR was able to attain 6.6 times the temperature of the Sun, which radiates at a temperature of only 15 million degrees Celsius.

Referred to as South Korea’s “artificial Sun”, KSTAR had achieved a similar feat also in 2018, but the temperature then could only be maintained for one and a half seconds. In 2019, the device repeated its performance and retained the temperature for a period of 8 seconds, setting a new record thereby, and increasing the duration over its previous plasma operation by more than two times. Previously, other fusion devices that managed plasma at temperatures of 100 million degrees or higher were unable to maintain the operation for 10 seconds or longer. Earlier, it has been difficult to maintain a stable plasma state in the fusion device at such high temperatures for a long time.

In its 2020 experiment, the KSTAR managed to improve the performance of its Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) developed last year, and succeeded in maintaining the plasma state for a longer period, overcoming the existing limits of the ultra-high temperature plasma operation.

KSTAR Research Center Director Si-Woo Yoon said in a statement: “The technologies required for long operations of 100 million- plasma are the key to the realization of fusion energy, and the KSTAR’s success in maintaining the high-temperature plasma for 20 seconds will be an important turning point in the race for securing the technologies for the long high-performance plasma operation, a critical component of a commercial nuclear fusion reactor in the future.”

The KSTAR has a target to increase the plasma operation performance to 300 seconds by the year 2025. The ITER machine being assembled at Cadarache in France expects to generate the first ultra-hot plasma in late 2025. The world’s largest science project is intended to demonstrate that fusion power can be generated on a commercial scale.

ITER will be the first project to achieve a self-heating plasma and is expected to generate 10 times more heat than is put in. Fusion provides clean, reliable energy without carbon emissions, with minute amounts of fuel and no physical possibility of an accident with meltdown.The fuel for fusion is found in seawater and lithium, while it is abundant enough to supply the world for millions of years. A football-sized amount of this fuel is equivalent to around 10,000 tons of coal.

The plant at ITER will produce about 500 MW of thermal power. If operated continuously and connected to the electric grid, that would translate to around 200 MW of electric power, which is sufficient for the average needs of 200,000 homes. A commercial fusion plant will be designed with a slightly larger plasma chamber, for 10-15 times more electrical power. For instance, a 2,000 MW fusion power plant could supply electricity to two million homes.

Tokamak (derived from the Russian words for “toroidal magnetic confinement”) devices, originally developed in Russia, are used to recreate fusion reactions that occur in the Sun. According to the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), there are about 250 tokamak devices around the world.

Last month, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced that it had switched on its ‘artificial Sun’, which managed to operate at 150 million degrees Celsius. In November 2018, the Institute of Plasma Physics in Hefei, China, had announced that an Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (East) device had reached a milestone temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius and heating power of 100 MW.

2020: A year of challenge and achievement for Indian nuclear sector

India's first indigenously built 700 MW reactor connected to grid
India's own 700 MW reactor goes critical at Kakrapar. Photo: Wikipedia

he year 2020 was a challenging year for the Indian atomic sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it still performed remarkably well attaining a major milestone and also taking steps towards setting up of a medical research reactor in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode, a top sector official said.

“A significant milestone achieved during the year was the achievement of first criticality of KAPP-3 (Kakrapar Atomic Power Project-3), the first of a kind indigenous 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR), which is the first in a series of 16 such reactors being set up in the country,” Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman K.N. Vyas told IANS.

The KAPP-3 attained first criticality (controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction) in July despite the handicap of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“All efforts are being made to start commercial operation of the first 700 MW unit at Kakrapar, KAPP-3 by March 2021. Work on the KAPP-4 and RAPP 7&8 (Rajasthan Atomic Power Project) is being expedited. In KAPP-4 and RAPP-7, main plant civil construction and erection of major equipment has been completed and balance activities are in progress. In RAPP-8, various construction and erection activities are in progress,” Vyas said.

According to him, the nuclear power stations operated at the highest standards of safety and generated 40,718 Million Units of electricity in 11 months of this year (January to November 2020).

“Continuing with the trend of setting records in long continuous operation by Indian nuclear power reactors, NAPS-2 (Narora Atomic Power Station-2) continued to operate during the year, registering 851 days of continuous operation as on December 23, 2020,” Vyas added.

The year also saw Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing setting up of a research reactor for production of medical isotopes in PPP mode to offer affordable treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Soon after that the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) set the process rolling and in November, appointed the Strategic Consultant and Transaction Advisor for setting up research reactor under PPP.

“The consultant is engaged from initial feasibility study to executing the concession agreement,” Vyas said.

According to him, the proposed reactor is designed to maximise irradiation capacity, and thus a large quantity of variety of radioisotopes shall be produced in the reactor.

“Majority of the isotopes are for medical use. In addition, some of the isotopes would also have industrial use. As per internal assessment, it is expected that with this research reactor, it will be possible to meet the complete requirement of medical isotopes in the country,” Vyas said.

“In addition, there will be considerable scope to export of radioisotopes. It is planned to have processing facility complex along with the reactor. It would be world’s largest (production volume wise) radio-isotopes production and processing facility,” he added.

Following the appointment of the consultant, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) held discussions with the consultant to finalise the business case and PPP model.

To know the expectation of the industry and probable investors, A.T. Kearney has initiated dialogues with leading players/investors of the different field, Vyas said.

As regards the reactor design, the design detailing is under progress.

With several more atomic power plants planned needing fuel, attempts are being made by Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) to increase production.

Looking forward to 2021, Vyas said, the plan is to commence commercial operation of KAPP-3 (700 MW) while work on KAPP-4 (700 MW), RAPP-7&8 (2×700 MW), Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project-3&4 (2×1,000 MW) and Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana (GHAVP-2×700 MW) projects are planned to be speeded up in the year after the slowdown in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In addition, start of construction of KNPP 5&6 (2X1000 MW) at Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam is also planned in the year.

The year also saw transfer of 25 different technologies through 38 Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreements. The nuclear technologies transferred were developed under various fields like agriculture, bioscience, environment, medical equipment, advanced instrumentation, engineering, water, radiation and chemical.

Vyas said BARC is engaged in research and development activities related nuclear agriculture and food preservation technologies like radiation induced mutants with superior traits, development of super absorbent hydrogel for dry regions and shelf-life extension of fruits.

“One Trombay crop variety TKR Kolam (Trombay Karjat Kolam) has been released and gazette notified for commercial cultivation by Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare. Two rice varieties, Vikram-TCR and CG Trombay Jawaphool were released by State Variety Release Committee (SVRC), Chhattisgarh. Breeder seed production of Trombay crop varieties was carried for groundnut (332 quintals), rice (15 quintals) and pulses (20 quintals),” Vyas said.

Pointing out that drought is the most severe stress that hinders the growth of crop plants, causing substantial yield loss to farmers, Vyas said: “BARC has developed a super-absorbent polymeric hydrogel using radiation technology. The hydrogel can soak up about 400 times its own weight and act as a water reservoir in the soil, releasing the stored water upon plant/root demand.”

In arid areas, the use of BARC hydrogel can increase the water holding capacity of soil, which significantly improves the plant health and productivity. The hydrogel has shown potential during testing in BARC and the same is being tested with the help of State Agriculture Universities, he added.

While BARC will continue to develop and test new mutants/breeding lines of oilseed, pulses and cereals, it will also take up development of technologies for shelf life extension of fish, spreads, vegan milk made of chick pea and preservation of agriculture produce (wheat, pointed gourd etc.), Vyas remarked.

Other notable developments are the biokit for detection of group of organophosphate (OP) and organocarbamate (OC) pesticides for qualitative detection of presence of pesticides in food commodities such as vegetables and fruits and 1,000 Litre Per Hour (LPH) reverse osmosis technology based water treatment plants were commissioned at villages of Maharashtra and West Bengal in alignment with the Jal Shakti Abhiyan and Jal Jeevan Mission of the Centre, Vyas said.

Danish firm plans floating nuclear reactors to supply power to nations, targets Southeast Asia

Danish firm plans floating nuclear reactors to supply power to nations, targets Southeast Asia

In an announcement made earlier this month, Danish nuclear energy firm Seaborg said that it has passed a necessary feasibility test allowing it to construct small nuclear reactors on ships that would directly supply electricity to power grids. The feasibility test by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) was the first among related regulatory approvals required, which would be followed by the ABS’ New Technology Qualification process.

Following the initial clearance by the ABS, Seaborg’s Chief Executive Troels Schönfeldt said the company’s 100 MW compact molten salt reactor would take two years to build and would generate electricity that would be cheaper than coal-fired thermal power. A Seaborg statement described the ABS clearance as “an important milestone towards (our) ambitious target to deploy the first commercial power barge by 2025.”

A versatile energy source. Providing electricity is just one of many capabilities of the CMSR. Source: Seaborg

Seaborg’s compact molten salt reactor is designed to be installed on barges that can be transported to any country connected to the sea, in order to produce clean electricity and transmit the power to the mainland. The ships have been designed to be fitted with one or more small nuclear reactors which can generate power for countries that lack the infrastructure to develop utility-scale clean energy projects, and continue, instead, to depend mostly on fossil fuels for producing electricity.

Seaborg said it hopes to begin taking orders by the end of 2022 for the nuclear barges, which would be built in South Korean shipyards and towed to coastlines where they could be anchored for up to 24 years. “The scale of the developing world’s energy demand growth is mind-boggling. If we can’t find an energy solution for these countries, they will turn to fossil fuels and we surely won’t meet our climate targets”, Schönfeldt said.

Seaborg’s reactors are designed to provide clean and affordable electricity worldwide, while the company plans to start its journey with growth regions such as Southeast Asia.The firm’s first such ships will have two nuclear reactors installed for delivering 200 MW power. Over their lifetime, these reactors will offset a minimum of 33,600,000 tons of carbon dioxide normally released by a coal-fired power plant of equal capacity, the company statement said. According to CEO Schönfeldt, “the maritime approach reduces time, project risk, and cost dramatically. We can leverage a highly efficient manufacturing industry with decades of experience, high safety standards, and a production capacity unlike any other”.​

“The world needs energy, but we also need to decarbonise. With a highly competitive product, using existing production capacity, we can deploy hundreds of reactors every year – we are geared for global impact,” Schönfeldt said. “The scale of the developing world’s energy demand growth is mind-boggling. If we can’t find an energy solution for these countries, they will turn to fossil fuels and we surely won’t meet our climate targets”, he added.​

At the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom-organised NEXT 75 conference held last week in Sochi, dedicated to the main problems confronting the future of civilisation, the Science Council for Global Initiatives President Thomas Blees said the fastest and most efficient way to deal with the issue of energy security is for small self-contained nuclear plants on board ships, which could then travel via sea and make shore stops to sell power to many countries. He noted how Russia has already shown the way in this direction with the floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) Admiral Lomonosov commissioned by Rosatom earlier this year. “Building large nuclear plants is very expensive, while most governments lack such resources. Instead, the electricity costs such FNPP work out to $1 per watt,” Blees said. “It is estimated that such ships (FNPPs) with total capacity of 400 gigawatt (GW) can be built in a year, using unused shipyards”, he added.

The concept of atomic energy onboard seaborne vessels is not new and Russia already has an operating fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers, while the FNPP Admiral Lomonosov has started supplying both electricity and heat to the city of Pevek in Siberia. Schönfeldt said that Seaborg’s proposed floating reactors are designed to be as safe as possible in a worst-case scenario accident, with a safety system causing the radioactive material to form a solid rock outside the reactor core so it cannot disperse into the air or sea as a harmful gas or liquid.

Technological advances have made nuclear power a very safe option: Expert

Technological advances have made nuclear power a very safe option: Expert

According to a Russian expert, continuous advances in nuclear technology have made nuclear power among the safest and most reliable sources of energy for the present, as well as the future.

Addressing a group of journalists from India and Bangladesh at an online event on advanced safety features of the Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactors organised earlier this week by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, Professor Dmitry Samokhin, head of the department of Nuclear Physics and Engineering at Moscow’s National Research Nuclear University (МЕРhI) said the key to ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants (NPPs) is the continuous advancement and modernisation of nuclear technology.

Elaborating on why nuclear power plants are considered safe, Samokhin listed the three fundamental safety features of the advanced VVER (vodo-vodyanoi energetichesky reaktor or water-water power reactor), that is this series of Russian-made pressurised water reactors (PWRs), including radioactive materials holding, reactor core cooling and monitoring control of reactivity, as critical areas for ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants. PWRs are the most common reactors in use, accounting for 65 percent of the entire NPP fleet, Samokhin said. Noting that of the nuclear industry’s operating time of nearly 18,000 reactor years as on October 2018, 10,000 years were accounted for by the VVER-type pressurised water reactors.

The safety principles underlying the VVER-1200 are a result of the experience accumulated over 75 years of the Russian nuclear industry, Samokhin said. Outlining the preventive and emergency safety strategies for nuclear power plants, he said it was necessary to have modern localising safety systems at NPPs to prevent or limit the spread of radioactive substances and materials released in the event of any crisis.

Outlining the specific safety systems of the state-of-the art VVER-1200, he said that its main feature is a unique combination of active and passive safety systems that provide maximum resilience to external and internal impacts, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and air crashes. Another unique feature of Rosatom’s VVER project is the “melt trap”, or core catcher – a special device designed to localise the molten reactor materials in the event of an accident with the core melting and penetration of the reactor vessel. The system of passive heat removal from steam generators is designed to manage and prevent melting of the core during situations like a total station blackout or complete loss of feedwater, and to mitigate the consequences of a coolant leak from the primary circuit.

The expert also spoke about the role of Russia in developing nuclear energy around the world and that each plant design undergoes stress tests related to withstanding natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, among others, also taking into account the geographical features and history of the location proposed for the NPP. He outlined the containment capabilities of the VVER-1200, where the reactor building wall consists of two layers with the space between these permitting the natural circulation of heat exchangers for emergency cooling, in case required. Besides, Samokhin emphasised on enhancing the safety culture in the construction and operation of nuclear plants.

Responding to questions from Bangladeshi mediapersons on any possible adverse environmental impact from the operation of Bangladesh’s first NPP being built at Rooppur and expected to become operational in 2023, the professor said that the proposed VVER-1200 reactors to be supplied by Rosatom solely emit harmless clear steam into the surrounding atmosphere. At the end of the webinar, the Rosatom South Asia office announced that as part of their constant efforts to increase public awareness on nuclear technology, as well as to dispel misconceptions about the safety of atomic energy, a training progrmme for journalists would be organised in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka once restrictions on account of COVID-19 are eased.

NEXT 75 conference discussed ways to reverse the planetary crisis

NEXT 75 conference discussed ways to reverse the planetary crisis

It was a first of its kind event, and was held at a time when the world is faced with a crisis of unprecedented dimensions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – a mass collective introspection about the past as well as a looking to the future by an online audience of over 450,000 that had joined a physical gathering of nearly 900 people at the NEXT 75 conference last week in Sochi, Russia, organised by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.  

The NEXT 75 international youth conference was dedicated to the main problems confronting the future of civilization. Climate change and depletion of natural resources, the threat of overpopulation and new epidemics, prospects for clean energy and opportunities provided by the advanced technologies were the main topics of the conference. The NEXT 75 speakers were all united in the belief that global problems should be solved collectively and immediately, before it is too late.

The world today is changing rapidly, but progress has a downside – the human impact on the planet’s ecosystem is enormous and, unfortunately, mostly negative. In order for humanity to use the chance to change the future, it is necessary to find the most pressing global issues and respond to them. The speakers were emphatic in their consensus that the response to this gigantic challenge is a common task for all generations, and today’s schoolchildren and students, who tomorrow will have to determine the fate of the world, cannot stand aside.

This conclusion was reflected in the vote taken at the end of the three-hour long conference on the principal challenges being faced by humanity, which showed that over 52 percent of the participants felt that the environmental crisis in the form of climate change, depletion of resources and loss of biodiversity was the most serious threat to the world, among the four broad interconnected challenges for life on earth.

The leading experts gathered at the conference, including globally renowned ecologists, virologists, biologists, anthropologists and power engineers, identified problems and pointed out the most effective ways to solve them.

The name “NEXT 75” is far from coincidental, in that the conference was a part of the celebratory events to mark this year’s 75th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry. Noting in a video broadcast that rapid technological changes had also created challenges like climate change, starkly highlighting the vital need for a low carbon energy mix to save the planet, Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev said that the crisis of the current system was rooted in a profit and loss approach to development and that the younger generation is looking for socially responsible behaviour. “Everything that happens in the most remote corner of the Earth will sooner or later affect each of us, which means that our common task is to find a joint solution to prevent challenges and threats. We care about the future of our planet. I am sure that today’s conference allowed us all to take a step towards understanding what needs to be done to make life on the planet better and safer in the next 75 years,” Likhachev said.

Professor Miguel Brandao of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden pointed out the fundamental flaws in the way the world has been exploiting of finite resources in a context of overpopulation “which will exacerbate old and new conflicts and we may even have to colonise another planet in our search for resources.” Pointing out that the global use of resource material would double by 2050, Brandao said that “four and a half more earths” are required to satisfy the world’s need for resources in the way these are consumed currently, and called for switching to sustainable production, a circular economy and a low carbon energy mix by reducing the use of fossil fuels, if humanity was to avoid “heading towards disaster.” “I implore a change in the paradigm of production and consumption,” Brandao said, adding that China, India and the US are the major emitters of greenhouse gases. Instead, the use of renewables had overtaken fossil fuels -coal, oil and gas – for the first time in the EU the first half of 2020.

“The climate crisis is a direct result of our energy production and use,” said the Science Council for Global Initiatives President, Thomas Blees. Noting that “social justice means energy for all”, he said a new energy source would have to be inexpensive and one that could be scaled up, which is impossible with renewable sources like solar and wind. “Nuclear energy is the only alternative. One pound of nuclear energy is the equivalent of 5,000 barrels of oil, and without producing carbon emissions,” Blees said. “Nuclear energy meets the bill in tackling the four major issues of safety, cost of development, waste disposal and weapons proliferation”, he added.

According to Blees, the fastest and most efficient way to deal with the energy issue is for small self-contained nuclear plants on board ships, which could then travel via sea and make shore stops to sell power to many countries. He noted how Russia has already shown the way in this direction with the floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) Admiral Lomonosov commissioned by Rosatom earlier this year. “Building large nuclear plants is very expensive, while most governments lack such resources. Instead, the electricity costs such FNPP work out to $1 per watt,” Blees said. “It is estimated that such ships (FNPPs) with total capacity of 400 gigawatt (GW) can be built in a year, using unused shipyards”, he added.

Oscar winning American director Oliver Stone said that like many of his generation he had earlier been against nuclear since they were ignorant about the difference between atomic weapons and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy at a time when climate change was unknown. “Many such activists have changed their opinion now. Renewables are great, but the coming generations will need a lot of energy and nuclear power is the best, most economic way of producing energy”, Stone said.

In a context where the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to infect 3.2 billion people and result in 32 million deaths over the 2020-22 period, Delhi University Professor Tejbir Singh
Rana elaborated on the planet’s overpopulation problem which has put severe pressure on resources, energy, the environment and biodiversity. Noting that the “population challenge is getting more intricate and complex”, Rana said that world population is estimated to cross 10 billion by 2050, while India would become the world’s most populous country by 2027, surpassing China. “In 2010, the number of migrants globally was 214 million, and by 2050 this figure will be 405 million”, he said. “Refugee, or forced, migrant numbers will double, while 40 percent of migrants now live in the developing world in slums, in pathetic conditions, where up to 100,000 people are packed into a square km, without clean water and basic hygene”, Rana added. According to him, such migration can only be controlled by creating rural infrastructure.

In a message for the younger generation, the former Nuclear Power Corporation of India Chairman Ravi Grover exhorted youngsters to think critically and develop solutions to “real-life problems”. “The technological society is moving at an unprecedented pace. As a result of past developments, learning has now become a lifelong process”, he said.

Looking to the future, Bernard Bigot, Director of ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), or the world’s largest nuclear fusion project, being assembled in France to replicate the fusion power of the sun in order to enable generation of clean unlimited energy, said that the hydrogen fusing experiment is based on lithium fuel and water, both available in unlimited quantities. “Generated on a commercial scale, fusion power can supply energy for 10 billion people in the future for a hundred million years” Bigot said.

UK invites land offers to host world’s first nuclear fusion power plant

UK invites land offers to host world's first nuclear fusion power plant

Earlier this month, the UK government invited offers for making available over 100 hectares of land to set up the world’s first nuclear fusion power station that would supply electricity to the national grid. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) expects to start construction on the project, known as the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), around 2030, while the plant could begin operating in 2040.

Although STEP, which is estimated to cost a whopping $2.5 billion, is being projected as a key element in the UK’s plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it is designed to supply only 100 MW of power. As a prototype fusion reactor that reproduces the way the sun makes energy by fusing hydrogen together to make helium, STEP’s connection to the electricity grid would help to understand the operation of a fusion power plant on a day to day basis. According a UKAEA senior official Ian Chapman, “STEP is a hugely ambitious programme – to be at the forefront, to be the first in the world to produce a prototype fusion power plant, and then export that round the world”.

The offers for the STEP host land site can be made until March 2021, and the UKAEA expects to take a final decision on the site by the end of 2022. The UKAEA already hosts a fusion reactor – the Joint European Torus (JET) – currently the world’s largest “tokamak” (derived from the Russian words for “toroidal magnetic confinement”) that was constructed in the 1980s and which is nearing the end of its working life.

Meanwhile, the machine assembly of the tokamak nuclear fusion reactor ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), or the world’s largest nuclear fusion project, began in July this year at Cadarache in France. This assembling work of the $25 billion multinational ITER project is expected to last 5 years.

The ITER machine is being assembled to replicate the fusion power of the sun, to enable generation of clean unlimited energy, and the first ultra-hot plasma is expected to be generated in late 2025. The world’s largest science project is intended to demonstrate that fusion power can be generated on a commercial scale.

ITER will be the first project to achieve a self-heating plasma and is expected to generate 10 times more heat than is put in. Fusion provides clean, reliable energy without carbon emissions, with minute amounts of fuel and no physical possibility of an accident with meltdown.The fuel for fusion is found in seawater and lithium, while it is abundant enough to supply the world for millions of years. A football-sized amount of this fuel is equivalent to around 10,000 tons of coal.

The plant at ITER will produce about 500 MW of thermal power. If operated continuously and connected to the electric grid, that would translate to around 200 MW of electric power, which is sufficient for the average needs of 200,000 homes. A commercial fusion plant will be designed with a slightly larger plasma chamber, for 10-15 times more electrical power. For instance, a 2,000 MW fusion power plant could supply electricity to two million homes.

NEXT 75 conference on December 16 to discuss fundamental future challenges

NEXT 75 conference on December 16 to discuss fundamental future challenges

Fundamental questions about the future, such as what humanity should prepare for in the course of this century, which technologies will develop most quickly, and which would be shelved, will there be global conflicts due to lack of resources, have humans passed the point of no return in global climate change, and are environmental disasters of unprecedented proportions awaiting us. among other topics, will be discussed at the NEXT 75 Youth Conference scheduled to be held at Sochi, Russia, on December 16 as part of the closing phase of events to mark the 75th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry.

According to an announcement by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, the participants at the conference, to be held in a mixed offline and online format, will be able to ask the world’s leading scientists and public figures all these and many other questions.

“The agenda of the conference will be devoted to closely related problems like resource scarcity, population growth, new diseases and environmental issues. Thanks to the use of multimedia technologies, communication on serious topics will be very exciting with many visual surprises awaiting the audience,” a Rosatom statement said. “The main goal of the conference is to establish a dialogue about the future of our planet between famous scientists and the most proactive members of the younger generation”, it added.

Scientists from around the world, such as the Nobel Peace Prize winner Rodney John Allam and Carl Safina, ecology Professor at the Rutgers University (US), are expected to address the conference.

Oyewale Tomori, WHO virologist and expert in the implementation of innovative solutions in the fight against pandemics, will speak about possible diseases of the future. Miguel Brandao, Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Ecology and Life Cycle Assessment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Thomas Blees, President of the Science Council for Global Initiatives, will speak at the Resource Scarcity panel. Tejbir Singh Rana, Professor at the University of Delhi will talk about the problem of overpopulation, which is expected to be one of the most acute issues in the future.

The conference is also expected to be attended by celebrities and opinion leaders, such as Russian actor and director and Danila Kozlovsky, and United Nations Messenger of Peace Jane Morris Goodall. Special guests of the conference are Elena Shmeleva, head of the “Talent and Success” foundation and the Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev.

According to Rosatom, the conference will be held at the 900-seater Atom Hall in the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi in full compliance with sanitary and epidemiological safety measures required to protect participants from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. “Two hundred gifted Russian students will attend the event at the Atom Hall, and another 400 young people from all over the world will be invited to join the conference online with the opportunity to ask questions and participate in discussions”, the statement said.

Webcast of the three-hour conference will begin on December 16 at 15.00 hours local time on http://next75.com/ as well as on the Rosatom social networks, the statement added.

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