After the devastating Fukushima disaster in 2011, the global nuclear power industry suffered a devastating blow. The amount of electricity generated by nuclear power worldwide plunged 11% in two years and has not recovered since.
Russia, one of the global leaders in nuclear technology, has succeeded in overcoming the situation by expanding the sale of its nuclear reactors across the world, The Asian Nikkei Review reports.
Flat domestic demand for electricity has curtailed construction of new plants at home, so Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, has been flogging its wares abroad. It is focused on what some call the “great grand middle”: countries that are close allies of neither the United States nor Russia. In April Russia started building Turkey’s first nuclear plant, worth $20 billion. Its first reactor is due for completion in 2023. Rosatom says it has 33 new plants on its order book, worth some $130bn. A dozen is under construction, including in Bangladesh, India, and Hungary.
“We hope that a lot of other countries will become our partners, and as they say, ‘nuclear newcomers,'” Rosatom Chief Executive Alexey Likhachev told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at a meeting in early July.
Likhachev reported that his company had signed contracts to build 35 nuclear power reactors, 67% of the world market for projects currently in progress, including government-to-government agreements, with total overseas orders of over $133 billion. He noted that negotiations for an intergovernmental agreement with Uzbekistan for the construction of what would be the first nuclear plant in Central Asia were in its final stages.
Russia’s only real competitor is China, another country where government and business are tightly entwined. Until recently China has focused on meeting soaring demand for electricity at home. But importing raw materials and exporting technology is a better long-term bet, and so it has started to look abroad.
A Chinese state-backed firm is partly funding Hinkley Point in Britain, and others are involved in plants in Argentina and Turkey. Yet although China will surely catch up, for now, Russia has no serious rivals in the export of nuclear technology, The Economist writes.