Record number of countries and participants take part in Atomexpo-2024

49

A record number of 75 countries took part in the recently concluded 13th edition of the international nuclear power conference-cum-exhibition, Atomexpo 2024, organised by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. 

Attended by over 4,500 participants from across the world, present at the opening ceremony of the 13th Atomexpo were global nuclear industry leaders like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General (DG) Rafael Mariano Grossi via video link, Head of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Sama Bilbao-y-Leon and the Rosatom DG Alexey Likhachev. 

Held since 2009, the forum is attended by executives of key companies in the global atomic industry, government agencies, and international and public organisations. 

In his opening speech at the Atomexpo 2024, whose theme this year was “Clean Energy: Creating the Future Together”, the IAEA DG Grossi said the forum was an important milestone in the global calendar of atomic events. “Atomexpo is very important in the context of the search for innovative energy solutions and discussions about the future of nuclear energy,” he said.  

“Rosatom develops innovative technologies like small modular reactors, Generation III+ reactors and fourth generation reactors. Three years ago, together we took part in the pouring of the first concrete into the base of the world’s first fast lead coolant reactor, the Brest-OD-300. The IAEA will participate in such projects. We note technologies that are aimed at the future and the implementation of which is now beginning,” he added.  

Grossi also noted that Rosatom is implementing projects in Turkey, Egypt, Bangladesh, among many other countries.  

The Rosatom DG Likhachev described the 13th Atomexpo as record-breaking in terms of the number of participants, international experts, and the number of countries that have officially sent their delegations. He noted that Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Iraq were participating for the first time. Pointing out “the special, privileged participation of representatives of Africa” in the forum, Likhachev said that it is there that today lies the huge potential for the development of atomic technologies.” 

The WNA chief Sama Bilbao-y-Leon referred to the declaration launched by 25 countries on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Conference last year, to triple nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050, and drew attention to the recent Nuclear Energy Summit held in Brussels.  

Bilbao-y-Leon highlighted the need for harmonisation of energy, industrial and financial policies in the development of nuclear technology. “By increasing investment and developing global supply chains, labour, and capabilities, we can truly apply nuclear energy globally at the scale and speed needed,” she said.  

She praised the role of Rosatom in demonstrating how nuclear power projects can be completed on time and within budget, saying the global nuclear industry needs to increase cooperation with governments and civil society to realise the future of clean energy through nuclear use. 

At the opening ceremony, a video link was established with the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk, which is the site of the Brest-OD-300 reactor being built as part of the Pilot Demonstration Energy Complex (PDEC) under the Breakthrough (Proryv) project designed to demonstrate the closed fuel cycle technology.  

Earlier this year, the lower tier of the Brest-OD-300 vessel’s containment structure was loaded into the reactor shaft.   A 300 MW nuclear power plant (NPP) powered by the lead-cooled BREST-OD-300 fast reactor based on the principles of “natural safety”, is the key element of the PDEC. The launch of the Brest reactor is expected in 2027. 

The PDEC is part of the strategic “Proryv” (“Breakthrough”) project. It will include three linked facilities, making up a closed nuclear fuel cycle at one site — the fuel fabrication/re-fabrication unit, the 300 MW nuclear power plant with the fast neutron BREST-OD-300 reactor, and the unit for spent fuel reprocessing.  The “Breakthrough” project is aimed at development of a new technological platform for the nuclear power industry capable of solving the current issues of handling and storage of spent nuclear fuel and waste.   

The Atomexpo format includes an exhibition and congress with an extensive business programme, the key event of which is a plenary session. More than 500 business agreements have been signed at the forum over the years, and their total cost is estimated at $63 billion. In addition, the exhibition provides a showcase for major companies of the global nuclear industry and related sectors. 

Among the agreements signed this year were an MoU between Rosatom’s fuel arm TVEL and the Chinese companies Limac and Dalian Baoyuan Nuclear Equipment in the field of decommissioning and radioactive waste management. Rosatom signed an MoU with Serbia’s Ministry of Health on cooperation in the field of nuclear medicine. The Atomic Energy Commission of Syria signed an MOU with Rosatom for cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 

Rosatom and the government of Primorsky Krai (in Russia’s Far East) signed an agreement for a feasibility study and siting options for floating NPPs. Rosatom also signed an agreement with Russia’s TSS Group on the formation of a joint venture for the construction and operation of floating NPPs for foreign markets.