Over the next 50 years, mankind will use more energy than it has consumed in the entire history. Earlier predictions of energy consumption growth and evolution of energy technologies proved to be wrong as consumption is rising much faster than expected while new sources of energy are not likely to become commercially viable until 2030. Fossil fuels are meanwhile growing short. Opportunities to build new hydropower capacity remain limited, while greenhouse effect prevention measures impose limitations on burning oil, gas and coal at thermal power stations.
A potential response to these challenges is nuclear energy, one of the youngest and fastest evolving global industries. Having realized this, increasingly more countries are embarking on nuclear power.
What are the benefits of nuclear energy?
One kilogram of 4%-enriched fuel grade uranium releases energy equivalent to the combustion of nearly 100 tons of high grade coal or 60 tons of oil.
Uranium-235 is not fully burnt up in the reactor and can be re-used after regeneration (unlike ash and slag remaining after fossil fuel combustion). With future transition to the closed fuel cycle, the technology will generate zero waste.
Greenhouse gas reduction
Rapid development of nuclear power can be regarded as a means of combating global warming. Every year, nuclear stations reduce CO2 emissions by 700 million tons in Europe. Russian nuclear stations prevent nearly 210 million tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted in the atmosphere every year, making Russia the world's fourth country in terms of CO2 prevention.
In the current conditions, nuclear power is one of the most important sectors of Russia’s economy. Dynamic development of the sector is one of basic conditions to ensure energy independence of the state and stable growth of the country’s economy.
Ten nuclear power plants in Russia operate a total of 34 power units: 17 units with VVER reactors (of them 12 units are VVER-1000s and 5 units are VVER-440s of different modifications); 15 units with channel-type reactor (11 units are RBMK-1000s and 4 units are EGP-6s); and 2 units with fast neutron reactors (BN-600 and BN-800). Total installed capacity of all power units is 26.7 GW. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP is not counted in since it is at the stage of pilot commercial operation.
Concern Rosenergoatom JSC is an operating organization of Russian NPP’s. Following the results of 2016 it again demonstrated the record production. Russian nuclear power plant produced 196.37 billion kWh. It became possible owing to new capacities and optimization of repairs, uprating of existing units, increase in load factor (83.1% in 2016), and other measures. A share of nuclear electricity in the total electricity production in the country approached 18.3%.
At the present time, ROSATOM builds 8 new power units in Russia. It builds also 34 nuclear power units abroad, including Akkuyu NPP (Turkey), Belarus NPP (Belarus), Tianwan II (China) and other.