25 Dec 2009 15:06

Rosatom, En+ form JV to develop new generation reactor

MOSCOW. Dec 25 (Interfax) - The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) and En+ Group, which brings together the mining, energy and aluminum assets of Oleg Deripaska, have established a 50/50 joint venture, AKME-engineering, which will design and produce a prototype 100 MW lead-bismuth fast reactor (SVBR-100) with a view of commercializing the technology, the companies said in a press release.

En+ will invest in the project. The press release does not say how much the project would cost, however earlier estimates put the cost of producing the first such reactor at $500 million.

The SVBR-100 is being developed at the enterprises owned by Rosatom, the press release said. The JV's short-term plans include completing the RND for the project and producing a detailed design of the pilot reactor and principal equipment and also obtaining necessary licenses. A pilot power generating unit based on SVBR-100 technology is scheduled to be commissioned around 2019, the press release says.

Nuclear power plants with SVBR reactors may be crucial for providing power to remote and detached regional consumers; this technology could be installed in mobile (floating) nuclear power plants complemented by sea water conversion units. Besides, the fast reactor technology could make an important contribution to the nuclear generation resource base, the press release says.

Lead bismuth cooled reactor technology has been used in nuclear submarines and has proved to be safe and efficient, it says.

Preliminary estimates show that the large-scale production of the new type reactors could make the specific Capex for constructing 1 kW of a nuclear power plant comparable to that for constructing 1 kW of a coal fired power plant, which will make it one of the lowest-cost plants in the power generation industry - and there will be zero greenhouse gas emission, the press release says.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) estimates show that some 500-1000 power generating units based on small-to-medium reactors can be commissioned in the period to 2040. The SVBR technology could account for 10% to 15% of the global nuclear power market of small-to-medium capacity.

"This is a pilot high-tech project to be implemented by the Rosatom and a Russian private entity on a 50/50 basis. We think it's an opportunity for us to use the huge groundwork we've done in the field of fast reactors and make it a commercialized and competitive product. We're glad to see private investors in this country, who take the long view amid the economic crisis and who are ready to invest into new technologies that can take a significant share of the global market, once the crisis is over. We expect the government to provide a strong support of this high-tech project implementation. It will be put on the list of the projects under the aegis of the Russian President's Commission for Long-Term Development," said Rosatom Deputy Director General Peter Shchedrovitsky.

"High-tech power generation projects and designs are the priority investment targets for En+ Group and EuroSibEnergo. We believe that the development of the nuclear power industry is one of the most promising ways to meet the rising demand for energy, with the lowest environmental impact in mind," said En+ Group CEO Vladislav Soloviev.

Earlier reports said the pilot SVBR-100 might be built in Obninsk.

Russian nuclear power plants rely mainly on the third-generation pressurized-water reactors (VVER), capacity 1,000 megawatts.

Russia has discussed building the Kola and Balakovo nuclear plants, completing the fifth reactor at the Kursk NPP and building a plant in the Far East with potential investors, but these plans have not yet come to fruition.