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Almasadam Satkaliyev, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Energy says "Rosatom has a certain advantage as supplier of the nuclear island" for a planned NPP. While the authorities continue to look for a contractor and supplier of equipment for construction of its planned NPP, they understand that Russia’s Rosatom has advantages in this area, he noted.

"Several applications are being considered. There is a French company, a Korean company, there are proposals from Chinese partners, there are proposals from Russian partners. When we consider construction experience and the number of units and efficient plants currently under construction in the world, then, with respect to the nuclear island Rosatom has a certain leadership," he said.

At the same time, he confirmed that it had been decided not to choose only one supplier of equipment, but to select the best nuclear island, the best power equipment, and the best network equipment. "Of course, we must also understand the geopolitical aspects of construction. At present, we cannot say who will finally win the tender. We cannot say that it will be Rosatom. It will definitely be a combination [of companies]. We understand the competitive advantages of Rosatom," Satkaliyev said French companies are the leaders with respect to power equipment, automation systems and auxiliary equipment. He noted that the plants under construction in Egypt and Turkey “are proving their effectiveness”.

Previously, the former Energy Minister Bolat Akchulakov, said that the technology for building a nuclear power plant had not yet been selected. The Ministry is continuing to evaluate the site allocated for the station in the village of Ulken in Alma-Ata region. Kazakhstan has received proposals from four suppliers - Korean Hydro & Nuclear Power, China National Nuclear Corporation, Rosatom and France’s EDF.

Meanwhile, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) follow-up team has visited Kazakhstan to assess the level of implementation recommendations made by a previous INIR mission in 2016.

The team reviewed the status of nuclear infrastructure development using the Phase 1 criteria of the IAEA's Milestones Approach, a three-phase programme that supports countries preparing for NPP construction. Phase 1 evaluates the readiness of a country to make a knowledgeable commitment to a nuclear power programme.

Kazakhstan currently operates research reactors as well as several other nuclear installations related to the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium mining. It has the second largest uranium reserves in the world with 14% of the total. The BN-350 fast breeder power reactor is currently being decommissioned after 25 years of operation having been shut down in 1999.

The mission team noted that Kazakhstan had fully addressed the previous recommendations in the areas of coordination of a nuclear power programme, financing of the nuclear power plant (NPP), emergency planning and radioactive waste management.

“Kazakhstan has made considerable effort to address the recommendations and suggestions made by the INIR team in 2016, which includes the preparatory work to inform the Government’s decision on whether to introduce a nuclear power programme,” said mission team leader Mehmet Ceyhan, Senior Nuclear Engineer in the IAEA’s Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section.

The team said further work is needed:

to complete the comprehensive report that supports the decision-making process for the nuclear power programme;to assess the funding requirements for infrastructure;to plan for further development of the regulatory body and future owner/operator;to develop a policy for industrial involvement of the nuclear power programme.

Image: Almasadam Satkaliyev, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Energy (courtesy of Rosatom)

Date: Friday, 14 April 2023
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