The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Donor nations to pay up for trying to fix Russia’s devilish nuclear waste problem at Andreeva Bay

Donors pledge more funding to remove broken nuclear fuel at Andreyeva Bay

Donor nations backing the cleanup of Andreyeva Bay, one of Russia’s most deviling Cold War legacy projects, have agreed to put more funding toward removing damaged and broken nuclear fuel rods lurking at the site, which is located just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border. Bellona,  by Charles Digges

Donor nations backing the cleanup of Andreyeva Bay, one of Russia’s most deviling Cold War legacy projects, have agreed to put more funding toward removing damaged and broken nuclear fuel rods lurking at the site, which is located just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border.

The removal of some 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies left by Russia’s submarine fleet began earlier this year, constituting a major international victory toward securing radioactive hazards on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk.

This is no small task. Spent fuel began building up at Andreyeva Bay, a Soviet nuclear submarine maintenance base, in the 1960s. Over the next two decades, many facilities at the site sprang radioactive leaks, and still more of the fuel was left out in the open air, where it degraded and threatened to contaminate portions of the Barents Sea.

Bellona and the Norwegian government took up the charge to clean up Andreyeva Bay in 1995. On June 27 of this year, their efforts finally met with success when a ship called the Rossita sailed away with the first of some 50 loads of spent nuclear fuel bound for storage and reprocessing at the Mayak Chemical Combine.

But complex problems of broken fuel elements, for which there are few blueprints in the annals of radioactive waste management, still remain

In 1982, a crack developed Andreyeva Bay’s now-notorious Building 5, a storage pool for thousands of spent fuel assemblies. The water was drained and the fuel painstakingly moved, but that created other problems. Some of those fuel elements broke, and remain at the bottom of storage pools within.

The fuel elements that were successfully removed were transferred to another facility at the site known as building 3A, where they were stuffed into chambers and cemented into place. This arrangement was only intended as temporary, but it lasted for 30 years. During that time, the cladding on much of the fuel has rusted, and the cement job makes it virtually impossible to remove them without risking further contamination.

A late November meeting of nations donating to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s nuclear window project was aimed at solving those problems.

The funders, which are comprised of Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and the United Kingdom, have agreed to put €100,000 to prepare Building 3A for fuel removal–and another €675,000 for studies on removing broken elements from Building 5.

This funding is an addition to the $70 million these nations have already contributed toward Andreyeva Bay cleanup. Norway leads in funds contributed, however. The nation has giving $230 million toward the efforts over the last 20 years.

As unloading work continues at Andreyeva Bay’s other facilities, it is not expected that removal of the broken elements will begin before 2023.

Two loads of spent fuel assemblies have so far been removed from Andreyeva Bay since April. The fuel is first taken out by water and delivered to the Atomflot nuclear icebreaker port in Murmansk. Once there, it is loaded in railcars, and taken the remaining 3000 kilometers to the Mayak Chemical Combine.


December 12, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Investing in nuclear weapons – some Swedish banks do this

Swedish banks allow investment in nuclear weapons: report Several Swedish banks allow investment in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, according to an analysis.

The Fair Finance Guide organisation said that of the nine banks it reviewed, only three have zero-tolerance policies in relation to economic dealings involving nuclear weapons.

One bank highlighted by the organisation, Nordea, was placed in a ‘grey zone’. The bank has publicly expressed zero tolerance towards nuclear weapons in asset management and foundations, but does not have any lending policies with regard to nuclear weapons, according to Fair Finance Guide.

Nordea has business agreements with Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom, which also manages the country’s nuclear weapons programme, according to a report by Svenska Dagbladet.

The Swedish bank has had a “strategic partnership” with Rosatom for several years, according to the newspaper.

Nordea maintains that it only finances the company’s nuclear energy activities.

“Nevertheless, this is enough to demonstrate support for the nuclear weapons arm of Rosatom, given that profits from the energy business are used to support its weapons industry,” Fair Finance Guide project leader Jakob König said in a press statement.

The organisation states on its website that it aims to improve the corporate social responsibility of banks.

Nordea sustainability manager Sasja Beslik rejected criticism of the bank. “The conclusion is incorrect. We do not finance – either directly or indirectly – any nuclear weapons production anywhere in the world,” Beslik said.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Sweden, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Origin of the mysterious radioactive cloud remains obscure, as Russia now denies it came from Mayak

Russia’s Nuclear Industry Tries To Dispel Fears Over Mysterious Radioactive Cloud, December 8, 2017 LUCIAN KIM

 More than two months after a mysterious radioactive cloud was detected over Europe, Russia’s nuclear industry went public Friday in an attempt to dispel fears that one of its facilities had released a plume of ruthenium-106.Russia’s

 state nuclear corporation, ROSATOM, released the findings of a special commission, which concluded that the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant, near the border with Kazakhstan, could not have been the source of ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope.

“There is no scientific basis for the hypothesis of some of our Western colleagues that there was a big release at Mayak,” Rafael Arutyunyan, deputy director of the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the commission, said at a news conference in Moscow. European monitoring stations first picked up traces of ruthenium in the air in late September. While concentrations were too low to pose a health risk in Europe, scientists have

 been puzzling over its origin. Wind patterns pointed to the south Urals, where the Mayak facility is located. The plant was the site of a 1957 explosion widely considered to be one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

In November, Russia’s meteorological service said that on Sept. 26, ruthenium-106 levels in a town 20 miles from the Mayak plant, Argayash, had exceeded the previous month’s by 986 times.

The same day, Mayak flatly denied that the spike in ruthenium had anything to do with its activities.

The ROSATOM commission that inspected the Mayak facility afterward reached the same conclusion. The commission said it hadn’t detected abnormal levels of ruthenium at the facility, there had been no malfunction of monitoring systems and none of the 250 Mayak employees tested had shown any trace of the isotope.

Arutyunyan rejected the suggestion that officials have been slow in informing thepublic, saying there had been no emergency situation that would have warranted an alarm. He called talk of a danger to health “nonsense.”
“Why should we come running to announce something? Mayak told us that all their systems were working absolutelynormally and routinely,” he said. “Why should they have jumped up and shouted? I think we spent the right amount of time to understand what happened.”

Environmental activists and government critics disagree.

After the findings of the commission were released, Greenpeace Russia started a petition drive addressed to the general prosecutor’s office, demanding an investigation by independent specialists and public figures into a possible release of ruthenium from Russian territory, as well as into the possible concealment of information by ROSATOM.

“The question is not only about the immediate danger, but the origin of this release,” Greenpeace energy campaigner Rashid Alimov said in a phone interview. “We think such incidents should be investigated and there must be an answer.”

Finding the source of the radioactive cloud was beyond the scope of the ROSATOM commission. But because the ruthenium-106 over Europe was found alone, that is, unaccompanied by other radioactive isotopes, the commission said nuclear power plants or spent nuclear fuel processing facilities like Mayak could be excluded as sources because they don’t produce “pure” ruthenium-106.

The commission said a satellite — or a fragment of one — re-entering the atmosphere cannot be completely ruled out as the source of the ruthenium.

According to French authorities,

the International Atomic Energy Agency found that no satellite containing ruthenium had fallen back to earth during the period in question.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, when Soviet authorities lied for days about the scope of the disaster.

“What’s happening with the ruthenium cloud reminds me a lot of what went on with Chernobyl,”

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in a recent video blog. “In no way do I want to prove there’s been a catastrophe of that scale. I just want to say that the pattern of behavior is exactly the same.”

Navalny went on to pillory the headline on state television that “safe ruthenium rain fell on Bashkiria” and the chief oncologist of Chelyabinsk region, who advised people worried about high ruthenium levels “to watch soccer and drink beer.”

ROSATOM insistsit is being as transparent as possible.”Russia’s nuclear industry is a lot more open than our peers’,” ROSATOM spokesman Andrei Ivanov said at the news conference.

On Friday, local journalists were let into Mayak on the first press tour since the facility was identified as a possible source of the ruthenium cloud.

Foreign correspondents will have to wait up to two months to get a security clearance.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | environment, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Britain’s plans to become a leader in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

The government has announced up to £56m in funding for the development of
mini-nuclear plants. The money will be available over the next three years
to assess the potential of designs of advanced and small modular reactors
(SMRs). It will also support early access to regulators in order to build
the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence SMRs and will
establish an expert finance group to advise how small reactor projects
could raise private investment in the UK. The first round of funding
comprises up to £4m for feasibility studies and up to £7m to further
develop their capability. Should these efforts prove successful, up to
£40m will be made available for R&D projects to bring the technology into
the mainstream. The government said it wanted the UK to become a world
leader in developing the next generation of nuclear technologies.

Engineering & Technology 8th Dec 2017

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Egypt to go into big debt to buy Russian nuclear reactors that it doesn’t need

Egypt to sign contracts for nuclear power plant during Putin’s visit: sources, CAIRO (Reuters) 10 Dec 17 – Egypt will sign contracts with Moscow during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cairo on Monday for the country’s first nuclear power plant, three senior sources told Reuters on Sunday.

The construction of the 4,800 megawatt (MW) capacity plant, which is supposed to be built at Dabaa in the north of the country, is expected to be completed within seven years, added the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media……

Moscow and Cairo signed an agreement in 2015 for Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt, with Russia extending a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction.

Egypt’s official gazette said last year the loan was worth $25 billion and would finance 85 percent of the value of each work contract, services and equipment shipping. Egypt would fund the remaining 15 percent.

The trial operation of the first nuclear reactor is expected to take place in 2022……

The nuclear plant is expected not to just cover the country’s energy needs, but to produce excess which can be exported, the sources told Reuters on Sunday.

Putin is scheduled to visit Cairo on Monday to meet with his counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, where they will discuss bilateral relations, trade and Middle Eastern issues, the Kremlin said last week.

Reporting by Momen Abdelkhalek; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Toby Chopra

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Egypt, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Russioa denies USA allegations : says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact

Russia says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact, Reuters Staff,   MOSCOW (Reuters) 9 Dec 17 – Russia said on Saturday it was fully committed to a Cold War-era pact with the United States banning intermediate-range cruise missiles, a day after Washington accused Moscow of violating the treaty.

   The U.S. State Department said on Friday Washington was reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems, in response to what it said was Russia’s ongoing violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The warning was the first response by President Donald Trump’s administration to U.S. charges first leveled in 2014 that Russia had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that breaches the pact’s ban on testing and fielding missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kms (310-3,417 miles).

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said those allegations were “absolutely unfounded”……

Echoing previous Russian statements, Ryabkov said Moscow was fully committed to the treaty, had always rigorously complied with it, and was prepared to continue doing so.

“However, if the other side stops following it, we will be forced, as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has already said, to respond in kind,” he added.

The U.S. allegation has further strained relations between Moscow and Washington, and the State Department on Friday hinted at possible economic sanctions over the issue……

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The unsolved hazard of damaged spent nuclear fuel rods – Andreeva Bay

In 2023, the risky part of Andreeva Bay nuclear cleanup starts

Donor countries agree to fund an additional study on how to extract the damaged spent nuclear fuel from Tank 3A. By Thomas Nilsen, December 08, 2017

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Russia, safety, wastes | 1 Comment

Horizon nuclear venture wants direct tax-payer funding for its Wylfa nuclear station project

Times 8th Dec 2017. Hitachi could stop funding the development of a new nuclear plant on
Anglesey unless the government agrees a viable financial support package by
the middle of next year, the head of the project has warned.

Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of the Horizon venture, said that its Japanese
owners had already spent £2 billion and would not keep “throwing a
bottomless pit of cash at a project without some certainty it can get to a
successful conclusion”.

Horizon is in talks with the UK and Japanese governments about possible direct state funding for its proposed plant at
Wylfa Newydd. Ministers appeared yesterday to move closer to agreeing
direct funding as the Nuclear Industry Council, a joint industry-government
body that is co-chaired by Richard Harrington, the energy minister,
recommended looking at models including the government taking an equity
stake in projects.

The National Audit Office has said that such models
could significantly reduce the cost to consumers compared with Hinkley
Point C, Britain’s first new plant in a generation. In further nuclear
industry developments yesterday The Nuclear Industry Council set targets
for reducing the costs to consumers of nuclear plants by up to 30 per cent
by 2030. The head of the Nugen venture developing reactors in Cumbria said
that its proposed acquisition from Toshiba by South Korea’s Kepco, which
plans to use its own reactor design, could delay its first power until

The government announced a fresh review into ways of financing small
nuclear reactors, and £4 million funding for feasibility studies into
other early-stage technologies. Mr Hawthorne acknowledged that the
government as a whole was yet to be convinced on the idea of direct
financing, with the Treasury concerned about anything that would put a
plant on its balance sheet, but said time was running out. He told The
Times: “We have been saying we need to have some confidence that the basis
of a transaction exists and we need to see some documentary evidence of
that. By the middle of 2018, we need to have something tangible to show to
our shareholders that allows them to keep funding.”

December 9, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors as UK govt ploughs money into them , despite financial risks

Telegraph 7th Dec 2017, Ministers are poised to plough almost £150m into developing new nuclear
technologies even after the Government’s own investigation revealed deep
uncertainties about the economics of next generation reactors.

The Government’s plan to reboot its stalled nuclear ambitions by investing in
research and development has been mired by indecision and delay since it
promised in 2015 to provide £250m to help developers find new, cheaper
ways to invest in the low-carbon power.

Government provoked furtherconfusion today after issuing a flurry of funding announcements for small
modular reactors, known as ‘baby nukes’, alongside findings that they may
prove even more expensive than traditional nuclear plants.

The new reactors, being developed by industrial giants including Rolls Royce and
NuScale, will face another round of financial scrutiny by industry experts,
the Government said. But in the meantime as much as £460m has been
promised for new nuclear research and development by the end of the decade.

The money will come from the Government, Innovate UK, and the Research
Councils, a Government spokeswoman said. The research funding windfall
includes £86m to develop nuclear fusion technology and a further £56m
towards research and development of next generation nuclear reactors.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

Russian authorities deny that radioactive cloud came from its Mayak nuclear plant

Russia claims radioactivity spike not due to nuclear plant, By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, ASSOCIATED PRESS, MOSCOW — Dec 8, 2017, Russian authorities denied Friday that a radioactivity spike in the air over Europe this fall resulted from a nuclear fuel processing plant leak in the Ural mountains, saying their probe has found no release of radioactivity there.

Vladimir Boltunov of Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear corporation said an inspection of the Mayak nuclear plant has proven that it wasn’t the source of Ruthenium-106, a radioactive isotope spotted in the air over Europe and Russia in late September and early October.

France’s nuclear safety agency said last month that increased levels of Ruthenium-106 were recorded over most of Europe but posed no health or environmental risks.

The Russian panel that involved experts from Rosatom and other agencies failed to identify where the isotope came from, but alleged it could have come from a satellite that came down from its orbit and disintegrated in the atmosphere.

Nuclear safety expert Rafael Arutyunian said while isotopes of plutonium, cesium or strontium are normally used as power sources for satellites, it can’t be excluded that Ruthenium-106 could have been used in some satellite equipment.

The assumption that the isotope came from a crashing satellite would explain its broad spread over Europe, he argued.

Arutyunian, deputy head of the Institute for Safe Nuclear Energy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that a broader panel will continue investigating the radioactivity.

Last month, the Russian state meteorological office reported high levels of Ruthenium-106 in late September in areas close to Mayak, but Arutyunian and other experts emphasized that they were still tens of thousand times less than the level that would pose health risks.

The environmental group Greenpeace alleged that Mayak could have been the source of a Ruthenium-106 leak, but the panel insisted the plant doesn’t extract the isotope or conduct any other operations that may lead to its release.

The commission said a thorough inspection of the plant had found no safety breaches and checks of its personnel also hadn’t detected any trace of the isotope.

Vyacheslav Usoltsev of Rosatom’s safety inspectorate said a sophisticated monitoring system at the plant would have spotted any release of radiation.

The panel also noted that while increased levels of Ruthenium-106 were spotted in the Urals and over Europe, they weren’t detected over a 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) swath of land between the Urals and Russia’s western border. It argued that if the source of the leak were on the ground, it would have spread the trace of Ruthenium-106 midway.

Mayak, in the Chelyabinsk region, saw one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents on Sept. 29, 1957, when a waste tank exploded. That contaminated 23,000 square kilometers (9,200 square miles) and prompted authorities to evacuate 10,000 residents from neighboring regions.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | environment, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Coal-fired power stations in Europe now facing a financial “death spiral”

FT 8th Dec 2017, More than half of the coal-fired power stations in the EU are lossmaking
and almost all will be by 2030, according to a study that says the fossil
fuel faces a “death spiral” in Europe. Analysis of more than 600 power
plants by Carbon Tracker, the climate think-tank, estimates that £22bn of
losses could be avoided by phasing out coal in the EU by the end of the
next decade. The research comes ahead of a climate summit to be hosted by
French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday aimed at building on
the international agreement on emissions cuts struck in the same city two
years ago.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

USA claims that Russia is violating 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

U.S. presses Russia to comply with nuclear missile treaty  WASHINGTON (Reuters) 9 Dec 17, – The United States is reviewing military options, including new intermediate-range cruise missile systems, in response to what it says is Russia’s ongoing violation of a Cold War-era pact banning such missiles, the State Department said on Friday.

Washington is prepared “to cease such research and development activities” if Russia returns to compliance with the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The warning was the Trump administration’s first response to U.S. charges first leveled in 2014 that Russia had deployed a ground-launched cruise missile that breaches the pact’s ban on the testing and fielding of missiles with ranges of between 500-5,500 kms (310-3,417 miles).

U.S. officials have said the Russian cruise missile is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and that Moscow has refused to hold indepth discussions about the alleged breach.

Russia has denied that it is violating the accord.

The U.S. allegation has added to strains in relations between Moscow and Washington. U.S. and Russian officials are due to discuss the issue at a meeting in coming weeks of the special commission that oversees the treaty, said a U.S. official, who requested anonymity…….

December 9, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Electricity from Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) would be much more expensive than from ‘conventional’ reactors

Power from mini nuclear plants ‘would cost more than from large ones’
UK government study finds electricity would be nearly one-third pricier than it would from plants such as Hinkley Point C, 
Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 7 Dec 17, Electricity from the first mini nuclear power stations in Britain would be likely to be more expensive than from large atomic plants such as Hinkley Point C, according to a government study.

Power from small modular reactors (SMRs) would cost nearly one-third more than conventional large ones in 2031, the report found, because of reduced economies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.

The analysis by the consultancy Atkins for the Department for Business, Energyand Industrial Strategy said there was “a great deal of uncertainty with regards to the economics” of the smaller reactors.

However, the authors said such reactors should be able to cut costs more quickly than large ones because they could be built and put into service in less time.

Advocates have argued that the reactors could be built in factories and achieve savings through their modular nature.

While the report covers the technology being used by several of the international companies seeking government support, it does not apply to the design being pushed by businesses including Rolls-Royce.

A government source said nuclear companies had told officials that the cost of the technology had come down since the report, which was finished in July last year but only published on Thursday.

As revealed by the Guardian earlier this week, ministers confirmed that SMR developers would receive £56m of public funding for research and development over three years. A further £86m was announced for work on nuclear fusion.

Greg Clark, the business secretary, said the backing would help the nuclear sector compete globally………

The government also defended Britain’s need for new nuclear power in the face of falling renewable costs.

Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said the record low subsidies recently awarded to offshore windfarms emphasised the challenge for the French, Korean, Chinese and Japanese companies building the UK’s new generation of nuclear plants to be competitive on price………

green groups and politicians accused the government of talking down renewables.

Doug Parr, the policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “Instead of downplaying the rapid advancement of UK renewables, the government should concentrate on the export opportunities for this UK success story.”

Caroline Lucas, the Green party co-leader, called the UK’s energy policy a mess. “Ministers are ploughing huge sums of money into supporting overpriced nuclear, while retaining a de facto ban on onshore wind and failing to give solar the support the sector needs,” she said…….

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Solar power to take over, on Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland

Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland primed for solar power explosionBellona,  by Charles Digges, Some would be rightly spooked by the idea of electricity produced by a glowing source emanating from Chernobyl, but thanks to a €100 million investment plan, that’s exactly what’s could happen.

It’s not, however, what you think. The electricity will come from a solar park sprouting in the middle of the carcinogenic wastelands surrounding the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster as part of a joint project between a Kiev engineering firm called Rodina Energy Group and Enerparc, a clean energy company based in Hamburg, Germany.

Ukraine’s minister of ecology, Ostap Semerak, announced a plan last July to revitalize the nearly 2000-kilometer swathe of land encircling the plant that gave nuclear disaster its name.

Long lasting radiation in the area makes farming, forestry, hunting, and just about anything else too dangerous, so renewable energy is seen as something productive to do with the huge empty area.

Luckily, all of the transmission lines that were laid to carry electrons from the notorious plant to Ukraine’s major cities – and that helped feed what is now the country’s 50 percent reliance on nuclear energy – remain largely intact.

When it’s done, the solar park could provide half the energy that originally flowed from Chernobyl, marking an inspiring comeback for an area inhabited by dystopian radioactive wild boar……..

the Chernobyl area could end up producing 2.5 gigawatts of solar produced electricity, pumping out half of what Chernobyl uses to produce before it melted down and exploded – with absolutely none of the danger……..

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ­– which financed Chernobyl’s New Containment Structure – is understandably wary of bankrolling projects in a radioactive exclusion zone. The solar farms, after all, are installed and maintained by people.

This poses some very real difficulties. Workers can only spend a limited amount of time in the exclusion zone, so their shifts are short, which means a bigger workforce is required – as is more money to pay them.

Yet they are challenges worth grappling with. If Ukraine manages to create a renewable energy rebirth on the site of the nuclear disaster that helped fell the Soviet Union, it would be a revolution of an altogether different kind.

December 7, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Armenia considers plan to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables

Armenia Debates Shift Away From Nuclear Power, Eurasia Net  December 6, 2017 – Oksana Musaelyan 

With its aged nuclear power plant scheduled to close in a decade, Armenians are discussing the feasibility of a shift to renewable energy.

A new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union has helped catalyze the renewables discussion. Metsamor, the only nuclear plant in the Caucasus, provides about one-third of Armenia’s energy needs, but it is already past its original retirement date. As of now it is scheduled to close in 2026.

A provision in the EU partnership document calls for: “the closure and safe decommissioning of Metzamor [sic] nuclear power plant and the early adoption of a road map or action plan to that effect, taking into consideration the need for its replacement with new capacity to ensure the energy security of the Republic of Armenia and conditions for sustainable development.”

Armenia’s Justice Minister Davit Harutyunyan recently raised eyebrows by suggesting, contra previous government assurances, that the country wasn’t necessarily committed to nuclear power………

Advocates of renewable energy say that it is particularly well suited for Armenia because of its particular geopolitical situation: its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed, and its dependence on natural gas and uranium from Russia has led to an uncomfortable degree of political dependence on Moscow.

Armenia was the first country in the region to easily offer permits to construct small solar, wind, and hydro power generation plants, and today renewable energy accounts for about 12 percent of Armenia’s total power consumption. That’s projected to grow to up to 18 percent in the next two years, according to Astghine Pasoyan, head of the Armenian Foundation to Save Energy.

Most of Armenia’s renewable energy today comes from small hydropower plants; solar and wind represent only a tiny portion of Armenia’s total electricity generation. But that portion is growing: Solar panels with a capacity of 3.5 megawatts have been installed over the last 10 years, with more than two-thirds of that total built only over the last year, Pasoyan said.

Further expansion is in the cards: in May, Armenia’s Energy Ministry issued a tender for a 55 megawatt solar power facility and a contractor, Arpi Solar, said in December that it will start work on the plan “very soon.”
“We started with a very small number and the trend is huge,” Pasoyan said. “I hope that the growth is not just in large-scale generation, but in average individual families, taking control of their energy needs and by doing that also helping the country strengthen its energy security.”

Pending changes in legislation would further liberalize the energy market. “For a lot of local communities and local businesses this will be a good opportunity to invest in renewable energy,” said Alen Amirkhanyan, director of the Acopian Center for the Environment at the American University of Armenia.

Amirkhanyan said that with sufficient investment in renewables, “there will no longer be a rationale for investing in very expensive technology, like building a new power plant.”………

December 7, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment