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India and Russia in discussions to develop “world’s most powerful fusion reactor”

March 12, 2024
nuclear reactor

Thiruvananthapuram: India and Russia are discussing potential collaborations, including research on controlled thermonuclear fusion and joint development of the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route, according to a top official from Russia’s state-run atomic energy corporation Rosatom.

AE Likhacheva, CEO of Rosatom, highlighted the main topic of discussion with India as prospects for further cooperation in nuclear technologies and other areas beyond energy and nuclear sectors.

Likhacheva, who visited the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu last month, emphasized the significant experience gained by both sides during the construction of KNPP’s first units.

“Our cooperation extends beyond India’s borders. Indian companies are participating in Rosatom’s project to build the first nuclear power plant in Bangladesh – Rooppur NPP,” he told Press Trust of India in an email interview.

Rosatom is developing around 80 new areas of activity and is prepared to share its developments with friendly countries, Likhacheva added. “Thus, we can offer the Indian side our competencies in the construction of low-power nuclear power plants,” he said.

He noted that both countries have great potential for cooperation in scientific research, including controlled thermonuclear fusion.

Likhacheva also mentioned Rosatom’s readiness to allow Indian scientists to conduct research at the MBIR multi-purpose fast neutron research reactor currently under construction in Russia. He highlighted the reactor’s potential for a wide range of medical, physics, and material research.

Rosatom is in discussions with India regarding the joint development of the transit potential of the Northern Sea Route, operated by Rosatom. This would facilitate the supply of Russian oil, coal, and liquefied natural gas to India via the route, with transshipment in Russian Far Eastern ports.

“We are also exploring options for cooperation within the framework of the Euro-Asian Container Transit project. This project involves the organization of a pilot line for international container transit through the Northern Sea Route. As you can see, the range of areas for mutually beneficial cooperation is very wide, and I am confident we will still make a significant contribution to the development of the strategic partnership of our countries,” he said.

Regarding India’s long-term energy strategy and goals, the Rosatom CEO mentioned the company’s plans to have a cumulative installed capacity share of non-fossil fuel energy sources of around 50 per cent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with nuclear energy playing a significant role.

He highlighted India’s ranking as second after China in terms of the number of nuclear power units under construction simultaneously.

The construction of KNPP is a flagship project of Indo-Russian cooperation, built according to a modern generation 3 design with VVER-1000 reactors, he said.

“This is the largest nuclear power plant in India. Operating just one 1,000 MW unit prevents on average more than 3 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.”

“… the operation of the first two units has already prevented emissions of more than 47 million tons of CO2 equivalent. This means that in addition to providing the south of India with the necessary electricity, the nuclear power plant is already helping to improve the environmental situation in the region,” Likhacheva said.

He said Unit 1 and 2 of the NPP were operating stably and in compliance with all safety conditions.

“The construction of the second stage (blocks 3 and 4) and the third stage (blocks 5 and 6) is actively underway. The construction process of the nuclear power plant is in full swing. Let me remind you, the Russian side’s area of responsibility includes design, supply of main and auxiliary equipment, installation supervision, and personnel training. We fulfill all our obligations in full,” he said.

Likhacheva also said Rosatom has already delivered the first batches of the new type of fuel assemblies, TVS-2M, with an increased nuclear fuel load, to the power plant in June 2022.

“Operating on longer fuel cycles increases the economic efficiency of a nuclear plant since the unit is shut down less frequently for scheduled maintenance. This increases the utilization factor of the installed capacity of the nuclear power plant, allowing it to produce more electricity during the calendar year,” he said.

The second unit of KNPP will receive the first batch of the new fuel assemblies in the summer of 2024, he added.

Likhacheva said nuclear energy plays an important role in the fight against climate change, and its share in the global energy balance needs to be increased due to its undeniable advantages compared to other low-carbon energy sources.

“Nuclear energy is rightfully considered one of the most affordable and most efficient types of electricity generation,” he added.

Russian nuclear power units fully comply with all requirements for modern nuclear energy, he said, noting the global demand for nuclear power plants of Russian design. “Today, Rosatom projects account for 88 per cent of the exported construction of nuclear power in the world,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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