Sunday, 9 September 2018

UK atomic aficionados seduced from Russia with love


Last week much media attention was devoted to the British Security Service’s revelations - via Prime Minister May in Parliament – to what they claim happened when alleged Russian military intelligence (GRU) agents brought the deadly nerve agent Novichok into Britain in March to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal in the sleepy but historic regional city of Salisbury.(“US, Canada, France and Germany back UK over novichok attack: May wins support for claim Salisbury attack was perpetrated by Russian agents”; Guardian, 6 September 2018;

The day after the revelations in Parliament and simultaneous with the British Ambassador repeating the allegations in the United Nations Security Council in New York, another Russian  came to Britain with details of the desire by Russia to import another very dangerous  technology into the UK, with the capability to kill tens of thousands. But on this occasion the Russian, Kirill Komarov, chairman of the World Nuclear Association was talking about the legal import of nuclear, not poisonous gas technology, in a keynote presentation to open the WNA annual symposium in London. (“Harmony: From initiative to reality, 6 September 2018;

Komarov outlined the concrete steps being taken to help reach the goal of the Harmony initiative - to achieve a 25% share of world electricity production by 2050 through the addition of 1000 GWe of new capacity. Launched three years ago, Harmony encompasses three objectives - a level playing field for all clean-energy sources of electricity, harmonised regulatory processes, and an effective safety paradigm, the WNA reported

Kirill Komarov (Image: World Nuclear Association)

Opening World Nuclear Association Symposium 2018 in London, the Association’s current chairman, Kirill Komarov, stressed the purpose of this year’s event.

“The reason we have gathered here is to discuss how the global community could create the environment in which the Harmony plans for a 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050, could become a reality,” Komarov told delegates, adding “We all understand that there is no sustainable future without nuclear as it is one of the most efficient, environmentally friendly energy sources, which provides electricity in a resilient and sustainable manner.”

Mr Komarov isalso  first deputy director-general for corporate development and international business at Russia’s Rosatom,

Progress towards the Harmony target were highlighted the launch last month of the WNA’s third annual edition of the World Nuclear Performance Report.

Evgeny Pakermanov, president of Rusatom Overseas -  a subsidiary of Rosatom-  highlighted the importance of international collaboration, particularly in work on innovative technologies. Rusatom Overseas has commissioned 13 new nuclear power units over the last 11 years, in China, India, Iran and Russia. Its current VVER portfolio includes 35 units. It has 60 units in operation and 41 at the project implementation stage. Novovoronezh II-1 - Rosatom’s first Gen III+ VVER Design - started commercial operation in February last year, and its second, Leningrad II-1 was grid connected in March this year.

Pakermanov described small modular reactor technology as “a truly innovative solution” both on land and at sea. Rosatom has 400 reactor years of experience in nuclear icebreakers, he said, and its Akademik Lomonosov will next year become the world’s first floating nuclear power plant to be commissioned. Next year, Rosatom will also commission the first nuclear icebreaker to be fully built in modern-day Russia. Arktika is the first of three vessels of Project 22220 which will be able to break through ice 3 meters thick as they escort vessels across the Arctic Ocean.

Work to close the nuclear fuel cycle, with the recycling of used nuclear fuel, is “the future of world nuclear energy”, Pakermanov said. For Rosatom, this includes MBIR - the multipurpose sodium-cooled fast neutron research reactor that is under construction at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors at Dmitrovgrad. This high-flux fast test reactor has “unique capabilities” and will be open to international participation, Pakermanov added. The same applies, he said, to the International Centre for Neutron Research - based on a high-flux research reactor PIK.

Rosatom commissioned the BN-800 fast neutron reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in 2015 and work on the design of the “next Step” - BN-1200 - is nearing completion, he said.

Russia and China intend to develop long-term cooperation in fast neutron reactor technologies and will work together on a floating nuclear power plant, he said.

“The opportunities for partnerships and cooperation are much bigger than for competition,” he said, adding “Strong collaboration is a key driver for us to move towards a better future together.”

Sometime soon, the new generation of technologists who brought the planet the  Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in 1986, are keen to export their  technology to the UK.

I wonder how the nuclear-committed UK Government will react to the soothing seduction from their friends in Russia.

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