Almaty. July 11. KazTAG - Tulkin Tashimov. The construction of the first atomic power station in Kazakhstan has been the milestone issue lately, having revealed polar opinions in the society concerning the development of the domestic atomic branch. Some people believe we don’t need to develop the atomic branch as Kazakhstan possesses good coal stocks, sufficient for the nearest hundred years. Other people think it is necessary to develop atomic branch as it will push the development of Kazakhstani economy on the innovational base.
Serik Kozhakhmetov, general director of the institute of advanced technologies of "Kazatomprom" company told KazTAG about development of the atomic branch.
-Serik Kasymovich, recently you said that the second atomic station must be constructed in the north? Where exactly and why?
-The idea that the second atomic station must be constructed in the north of Kazakhstan is explained by the concept of the development of atomic energy which was developed by "Kazatomprom" several years ago within the plan for energy development in the country. The concept is based on the analysis of current and prognosticated energy balance of the country for the nearest 25-30 years. According to the document the question was in gradual construction of 3 atomic stations with 600 mwt capacity each in the west, north and south of Kazakhstan. Such geography is explained by the map of energy consumption and has, first of all, economic ground. The analysis of the available data shows, that it has been problematic to compensate power deficiency for the account of other generating capacities.
-But we have been constructing long electricity lines to cover energy deficiency in the south regions. How much is this strategy justified?
-Once one of the greatest physicists, laureate of the Nobel prize Peter Kapitsa told his students that people who think that electricity runs through the wires are mistaken. According to Kapitsa electricity is usually lost in the wires.
Take a look at one peculiarity. There are almost no electricity lines in China. They construct local sources of electric power near big conglomerations. In Europe, to make the lines safe and not to spoil the landscape they earth them underground.
I should mark, many attributes of the Soviet economy, industry were archaic and outdated. I relate the transmission lines to them, which not just lose the energy, but also under their affection agricultural lands are withdrawn from circulation. One more connection concerns transfer of a part of the Irtysh water to the west and north of Kazakhstan. It is clear in this process 50% of the water will die. Thus, energy transportation to big distances is equal to the consequences of water transfer from the Irtysh.
-What does atomic branch mean for Kazakhstan?
-Atomic branch is a segment of highly-educated people, new values, and new mentality. Structuring this branch we are making a big step forward in terms of intellectual development. High intellect forms new mental outlook, and more active civil position. In these terms, the economy will stimulate the development of civil society. My strong believe is that atomic branch will bring a worthy contribution into the development of civil society.
-Why in the question of the first AES construction in Aktau Kazakhstani side is focused on the Russian reactor?
-We realize that Russia takes the leading positions in the segment of reactors construction. These are reactors of small and average capacity to 600 mwt on fast neutrons. Firstly, since Soviet times Russia has been developing military aspect of the reactors application, including their application as propulsion units of atomic underwater and over water vessels. In fact, undamaged condition of the reactor at "Kursk" atomic submarine, which crashed, is a good example for this. The second direction, where Russian priority is obvious, is that the reactors are based on fast neutrons. The first industrial reactor BN-350 was installed at Mangistau atomic-energy combine and after its 30 years exploitation now it is in decommission stage.
However, as "fast" reactors can be applied on double-purpose, Kazakhstan agreed for its decommission, although its resource wasn't exhausted. This way, once again Kazakhstan confirmed its aspiration to the status of non-nuclear power.
Now Russia is completing the design of a new BN-800 reactor. But it won't stop on it: "Rosatom" received endorsement of the Government for the BN-1000 development. All these consequences let us consider the Russian project as potentially possible for implementation. This position was declared by Kazakhstani President during the meeting with Russian leader on June 7.
-Kazakhstan plans to install 300 mwt capacity reactor. Don't you think that this small capacity of the reactor will affect the cost price of electric power?
-Since the time of the USSR the western region of Kazakhstan was under-populated region in many terms, because oil branch was developed here, which did not need many people. As far as there is no other industrial infrastructure in the region, it means, energy intensity is low. Thus, the energy distributing network there has low capacity.
There is no need to install 1 gwh capacity here. From another side, if in pursuit for low cost price we install a powerful reactor, modernization or total replacement of electricity distributing network will considerably increase the energy cost price. Taking in account all these factors, we decided that Russian BBP-300 reactor is one of possible options. However, the final decision will be taken by the government after a corresponding tender.
-Isn't there an alternative reactor?
-Of course there is. When experts talk about an alternative reactor, they are likely to mean the reactor AP-600 by Westinghouse company, considered as an alternative to the Russian one. It is also a very reliable reactor.
I'll repeat, until the Government takes the final decision on the AES construction, the discussion about the reactors is worthless.
Which choice can Kazakhstan make? I think any. While constructing the AES we must be focused not only on the characteristics like "tested" but first of all on its safety. I can definitely say that the words "innovational" and "safe" are almost synonyms when we talk about reactors.
-How can you reason the necessity for construction of the atomic stations in Kazakhstan?
-Firstly I should mark that many Kazakhstani officials being emotional often do not objectively estimate the necessity of the atomic branch in Kazakhstan. They are in concrete political and environment spaces; especially after well-known events around "Kazatomprom" . They often have wrong vision about the future of the atomic branch. It is a clear reaction of self-protection in the form of insurance. Economic expediency shows necessity to construct strong energy sources in different parts of the country, especially at the Balkhash lake.
However, many people in Kazakhstan start to realize, that the HES construction will considerably harm the environment.
Any HES produces so called dumps which must be stocked somewhere. We have been burying them. But not this issue is the main one. HES is energy, which burns oxygen and emits CO2. Even if we forget about the harm to the environment, it is not the most advanced solution in terms of technological solution of the problem of energy deficiency.
-But there is an opinion in the society, in the time when we have good stocks of coal, what is the point in the AES construction?
-I think such opinions are peculiar for the minions, like, Kazakhstan is big and 2-3 powerful HES will not do much harm to the environment. In the process of construction and exploitation of HES there are a number of negative nuances. Lets' take a look at one of them. But first, just one question: do you know which share of investments goes to the pipes construction at a HES? I can tell you: for example it took over half of the costs at Ekibastuz GRES-1. It is clear that these constructions are huge, they are supposed to bring the burning products high in the atmosphere.
Now imagine the situation that we will construct a powerful HES in the center of Kazakhstan, at the Balkhash lake. Let alone the question about health harm for our people. We are going to construct the HES in the time of obvious tendency for toughening of ecologic norms all over the world. It is clear that some our geographic neighbors can say that we cause big ecological harm to their territories and they can use it as a strong factor of pressure on our country. Thus, we will create preconditions for litigations, which we will hardly win.
-If I'm not mistaken, there has been the first positive signal. I mean the foundation of the Agency for Atomic Energy.
-I agree, the signal is positive. The foundation of the agency proves that the authorized agency (the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies-KazTAG) refused to carry responsibility for the development of the atomic branch and the AES construction.
Meanwhile, the government has its own motives. Creating an agency, from one side, they will perform the requirements of the IAEA on foundation of an authorized state body, from another side- the decisive role of the position of the head of the state is obvious, who required the government to decide- whether we develop the atomic energy and create a corresponding supervising state body or we forget about the idea of the atomic branch development in Kazakhstan. Luckily, the first one has dominated.
Now there is a clear task in the branch. According to the preliminary plan for the energy development, the share of electric power generated by the AES must reach 4% by 2025. The AES constructed in the different regions of the country must cover this share.
-How does Fukusima factor affect the development of the atomic branch in Kazakhstan?
-Undoubtedly, there is no direct influence; however, the Fukusima factor makes many people muse. The failure at Fukusima has been localized due to the advanced technologies and high commitment of the Japanese. This nation is so persistent. It seemed that after this accident the demand for AES would go down.
But the world atomic branch, in many terms thanksgiving to China, has kept the strong development stimulus: by 2050 China plans to have 100 blocks. On the background of Chinese plans, the decision of German authorities on gradual shutdown of the ASE at its territory is not so considerable at the market.
Talking about the situation in Germany, I should mark high conjuncture of ecological moods, which are often populist.
-But many people fear that the AES will be very dangerous?
-People are under the danger even when they stay home and watch TV. What if an earthquake happens? I can say that there is potential danger posed by the worn off hydro technical construction of the cascade of the Bukhtarma HES, this danger is much higher than any AES. Luckily, the works for their reinforcement are planned to be completed the nearest year. All the risks, connected with hydrological constructions are also very high. The question is if we want to increase these risks or if we want to step to a new stage of technological development.
-The authorities have been actively promoting the idea of placement of nuclear fuel bank in Kazakhstan. What's the use of it for us?
-It gives nothing from the economic point of view. But people live not only with the economic benefits. By the way, the construction of the object will be funded by the IAEA. It is a special protected territory where low-enriched uranium will be stored, which is in the property of the IAEA.
This project demonstrates to the world that Kazakhstan is a predictable county and it can be trusted the uranium storage without any risk of its sale. As a state we'll get an additional image and political attractiveness.
-Thank you for the interview.