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Russia set to build SMR nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan

28 May 2024

An agreement between Uzbekistan and Russia will see a six-unit small modular reactor nuclear power plant built in the Jizzakh region of Uzbekistan, with construction work due to begin as early as this summer.

The protocol amended the Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan, expanding the cooperation to include the construction of a small nuclear power plant (Image: Rosatom)

The contract was signed during a state visit to Uzbekistan by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The plan is for a site with a total capacity of 330 MW, comprising six 55 MW reactors. Russian state corporation Rosatom will be the general contractor, with local companies involved in the construction process.

Director of Uzbekistan’s nuclear development agency, Uzatom, Azim Akhmedkhadjaev said: “According to forecasts, the demand for energy resources in Uzbekistan will almost double by 2050. It is evident that for the stable operation of the energy system and economic development, our country must ensure a base-load power source in addition to renewable energy sources. We are witnessing a global increase in interest in new nuclear projects, both in large-capacity power plants and small modular reactors. We believe that expanding cooperation with Rosatom will strengthen our energy sector with advanced nuclear energy technologies.”

The site has already been through a number of required approval steps for suitability and safety “which will significantly shorten the project implementation timelines”, Rosatom said.

There are more than 80 different designs of small modular reactors (SMRs) in development. They are generally defined as nuclear power units with a capacity of up to 300 MWe, with modular technology using module factory fabrication, pursuing economies of series production and shorter construction times.

Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev said: “Rosatom has confirmed its undisputed global leadership in nuclear energy by signing the first-ever export contract for the construction of a small nuclear power plant. This is not just a preliminary agreement; we are starting construction this summer.”

The Uzbekistan project is based on the RITM-200N water-cooled reactor, which is adapted from the nuclear powered icebreakers’ technology, with thermal power of 190 MW or 55 MWe and with an intended service life of 60 years. The first land-based version is currently being built in Yakut in Russia, with the launch of the first unit expected to take place in 2027. Rosatom says that its combination of active and passive safety systems mean the SMR plants will achieve the highest possible safety standards.

In 2017, Uzbekistan signed an agreement with Russia to construct two VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors and, following the signing of the SMR plant agreement on Monday, Rosatom’s Likhachev said, in an interview with the Rossiya-1 TV channel, that there were still proposals for building a large nuclear power plant – with a capacity of around 2.5 GW – in Uzbekistan.

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