Our interlocutor is Nikolay Grusha, the Deputy General Director of the State Research Institution “Joint institute for power and nuclear research — Sosny”.
— During an energetic forum that has taken place recently there was heard an unexpected opinion about Atomic Power Station in Belarus — an energetic adviser of the UN Commission for Europe has shared that there is no point for such a small country to build its own atomic power station, it’s enough to develop energy-saving technologies…
— Some countries would prefer that we do not have any progress in any direction at all. But let’s abstract from that saying and have a look around. Bulgaria and Armenia are small countries but they develop their nuclear energetics; Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have made a decision on the construction of an Atomic Power Station. The Russian Federation is fully provided with natural resources but at the same time the country develops nuclear energetics. The same could be told about the USA — the country is not fasten to use its exhaustible natural resources, it leaves them for the next generations, but as for today it has 103 power units and plans to extend their quantity to 300 units till 2030–2040, besides, some old power units are being taken out of operation. And that fact does not seem paradoxical to anyone.
As for Europe, there are practically no hydrocarbon resources (gas, oil and coal) there — they all are located behind the Ural. As of today, their extraction is being placed to hard reach areas so a sharp question of fuel supply appeared. And fuel must be supplied every second. Comparing those fuel types with nuclear fuel that are loaded for several years — you will see that it is more convenient and not difficult. That is why many European countries have made their choice in favor of a peaceful atom. But let’s come back to our country. There is such a notion as a state energy security, but in our country it is not observed on many factors.
— Perhaps, you should speak about that in details?
— Let’s start with an indicator of fuel diversity. A country must have 3–4 of its types, but we have only one. And Belarusian energetics for 95 percents is built upon gas being delivered from one country — Russia. And then the second figure will appear — indicator of supplies diversity that we do not have at all.
Naturally, according to energy security concept, the country will use local fuel both with water resources and alternative energy sources but they will not be able to provide basic consumption, they will be better used for local needs. That is why own nuclear energetics has become a solution of serious problem as it provides the cheapest electric energy.
Nuclear fuel is much cheaper than hydrocarbonic one. In a prime-cost of electric energy a fuel component occupies 60–80 percents at thermal stations and not more than 25 percents at Atomic Power Station and fuel cost in itself is even smaller. As a matter of fact, a fuel component at Atomic Power Station is considered not only as purchase of fuel but also as treatment of waste and even as creation of fund for future taking out of operation an energy unit.
— When a problem of construction of a Belarusian Atomic Power Station arose, perhaps, at the first stage there were questions on the station type selection and possible area determination. How had they been solved?
— Let’s start with technology. Analysis of world experience in nuclear energetics development has shown that from the point of view of security both with operational reliability and technical-economic indicators we have to determine the type of ATS with pressurized-water atomic power station (PWR). 70 percents of all operating reactors are referred to such type, as they showed their advantages in military and civil spheres. Besides, in the end of the 90’s reactors of the next third generation were developed, they are in thousand times more reliable than the previous ones. Exactly they will be a base of nuclear energetics during the nearest 50–60 years.
Speaking about manufacturers of such equipment, I should mention that there are only three of them in the world: an American — Japan company “Westinghouse-Toshiba”, a French — German group “AREVA NP” and a Russian Close Joint-Stock Company “Atomstroyexport”.
Russian equipment not only corresponds to current international standards but even exceeds its west analogues and, moreover, it is much cheaper. In the present time Russia is carrying out construction of nuclear stations in China, India, Iran, and Bulgaria. There have been two energy units already established in China and the third and the forth units are next in turn.
— You have said about the third generation of reactors with much higher level of security than the current ones…
— A possibility of hard damage in their active zones is in tens of thousands times lower than damages of Chernobyl type reactor. All of them have a passive security system in addition to an active one. There is neither any need to supply energy, nor for operator’s intervention to put them into operation. In case of failure the automatics will provide stoppage and long-term cooling of reactor.
Moreover, all equipment is under double safety “cap” at modern stations and radiation will not get outside its limits in case of emergency. Chernobyl APS did not have such protection.
— An atomic station has a big cost and starts to pay back only in 12–15 years, but at the same time APS operation life is comparatively short — about 30–40 years. To dilettante’s point of view what is the sense to build an atomic station if it must be stopped in several decades?
— Design lifetime of the first and the third generation stations was 30 years, but practice showed that they could be safely used much longer that is why many countries are concerned with the problem of APS operation lifetime prolongation. Besides, the first in the world atomic station was built in Obninsk in 1954 and it was taken out of operation only in the beginning of this century. Modern APS is being built for 50–60 years and that is not a little. By the way, traditional thermal stations are also specified for 30 years of their operation life.
— Will you tell anything about selection of a land area for the APS construction?
— Such a process consists of several stages and lasts for 2–3 years. Speaking simpler, the selection process is performed by a method of exclusion. In the beginning a map of deflected territories is composed — the land areas where the APS can not be settled: a distance to big cities must be observed; gas and oil pipe lines, as well as airlines are to be marked; conservation areas and nature reserves are excluded. As a result, nearly 50 percents of the country’s territory is turned out to be unusable for the APS placing. Further places with reliable station water provision are being selected, where there is a binding to rivers and large water reservoirs. There are more than 70 places in Belarus, suitable for the APS.
Then seismotectonic, geologic soil structure and so on must be developed. In compliance with normative documents and recommendations issued by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) it is considered necessary to examine several areas and then to determine the best one.
There were two areas determined in our Republic — in the east of Mogilev region — Krasnopolaynskaya and Kukshinovskaya, where a complex territory research is being performed till the end of next year.