Russia Will Supply Small Modular Reactor Nuclear Plant in Uzbekistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Uzbekistan on May 26 to meet with his counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Among topics high on the leaders’ discussion list was energy. In addition to Russia reportedly being open to broader cooperation on gas supplies with Uzbekistan, the two countries also signed a protocol in the presence of the two heads of state amending an Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan. The amendment expanded the cooperation to include the use of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, according to ROSATOM, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation. On the sidelines of the event, the joint stock company Atomstroyexport (the Engineering division of ROSATOM) and the state unitary enterprise Directorate for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plants under Uzatom, the agency for atomic energy of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, signed a contract for the construction of the SMR plant. ROSATOM said it will be the general contractor for the construction of the plant, while local companies will also be involved in the construction process.

An agreement was signed that will see Russian small modular reactor technology deployed in Uzbekistan. Courtesy: ROSATOM

“ROSATOM has confirmed its undisputed global leadership in nuclear energy by signing the first-ever export contract for the construction of a small nuclear power plant. This is not just a preliminary agreement; we are starting construction this summer,” Alexey Likhachev, director general of ROSATOM, said in a statement. The project will be constructed in the Jizzakh region of Uzbekistan, utilizing the Russian RITM-200N reactor, which is an adaptation of marine technology for land-based deployment. Each module has a thermal power capacity is 190 MW, with an electrical power output of 55 MW. The service life of units is up to 60 years. ROSATOM said RITM-200 series reactors, on which the RITM-200N reactor is based, have been tested in harsh Arctic conditions on modern Russian icebreakers. Since 2012, 10 RITM-200 reactors have been manufactured for the nuclear icebreakers Arktika, Sibir, Ural, Yakutia, and Chukotka. The first three are reportedly in operation, successfully accompanying vessels in the western Arctic region. Meanwhile, a small nuclear power plant based on the RITM-200N reactor is also currently under construction in the village of Ust-Kuyga, Yakutia. The first power unit is expected to be launched in 2027, with commissioning in 2028. The facility is expected to provide electricity to industrial enterprises, including the development of the Kyuchus, Deputatskoye, and Tirekhtyakh deposits. The Uzbekistan SMR plant is planned to have a total capacity of 330 MW (six reactors with a capacity of 55 MW each). Among the advantages ROSATOM touts for SMRs are shorter construction times compared to large-capacity nuclear power plants due to their compactness, and the potential to increase capacity according to a country’s needs. While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that 83 SMR designs are under development globally, only two are actually in commercial operation currently—the HTR-PM and the KLT-40S, which are Chinese and Russian designs, respectively. “According to forecasts, the demand for energy resources in Uzbekistan will almost double by 2050. It is evident that for the stable operation of the energy system and economic development, our country must ensure a baseload power source in addition to renewable energy sources. We are witnessing a global increase in interest in new nuclear projects, both in large-capacity power plants and small modular reactors. We believe that expanding cooperation with Rosatom will strengthen our energy sector with advanced nuclear energy technologies,” said the Director of Uzatom Azim Akhmedkhadjaev. The chosen site has already been surveyed and confirmed for suitability and safety, according to ROSATOM, which it said will significantly shorten the project implementation timeline. Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@POWERmagazine).

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