The 12th ATOMEXPO 2022 International Forum took place in Sochi (Russia) on 21–22 November. Over 3,000 guests, including businesspeople, government agencies, and international organisations, from Russia and 65 other countries attended the event.
The forum’s motto was ‘Nuclear Spring: Creating a Sustainable Future.’ The opening plenary session focused on prospects for the development of global nuclear energy. The discussion was attended by Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, Director General of Brazil’s ENBPar Corporation Ney Zanella dos Santos, Belarusian Minister of Energy Viktor Karankevich, Turkish Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Alparslan Bayraktar, and Bangladesh Minister of Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman.
During the plenary session, the participants discussed opportunities and scenarios for the development of nuclear energy against the backdrop of energy crisis prompted by a sharp increase in hydrocarbon fuel prices, instability of supplies, and the breakdown of logistics and technological chains. The participants agreed that, under these conditions, peaceful nuclear development could play a key role in solving the problems that numerous countries face, and become a driver for the development of their economies for decades to come.
The plenary session on the second day was devoted to the use of small modular nuclear power plants. The meeting was attended by IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov, Rosatom First Deputy Director General for International Business Development Kirill Komarov, Myanmar Minister of Electric Power Thaung Han, Kyrgyz Minister of Energy Taalaibek Ibraev, Chukotka Autonomous District Governor Roman Kopin, and others. They stared that onshore SMRs would be built in Russia in the foreseeable future.
Speakers noted that Rosatom would replicate low-power NPP projects in Russia and offer them to foreign customers, which could include countries with territories far from centralized energy supplies, island states, countries with low demand for electricity, or large industrial facilities. Rosatom has the potential to launch serial construction of such plants. Komarov explained that the fuel component in the cost of a kilowatt at small NPPs does not exceed 3–5 percent making prices predictable for decades to come.
The forum’s business programme also provided for a discussion on financing the transition to green energy. Guests spoke about the rapid development of renewable energy sources and their higher share in the energy balance of several countries, taking into account the fight against climate change, the risks of stagnation, and the ability to avoid energy crisis.
Another important discussion topic at the forum was the electrification of transport. In Kaliningrad, Rosatom is building a gigafactory to produce lithium-ion batteries, which will be launched in mid-2025. It should be able to equip 50,000 electric vehicles per year. Three more similar factories with the same capacity are also in the pipeline. The first factory’s future products have already been divided among potential consumers.
Over the two days of the forum, the participants signed roughly 50 agreements concerning various businesses. Multiple agreements were concluded with Russia’s foreign partners. For example, Rosatom and the Republic of Burundi signed a roadmap on cooperation in assessing the prospects for nuclear generation in this country. A similar document was signed with Nicaragua. A memorandum with Zimbabwe covers education and training of personnel in this country’s nuclear energy sector. Several agreements were also signed with Belarus, specifically regarding the supply of Russian medical equipment for cancer treatment. Rosatom will also cooperate with Uzbekistan in the medical industry, for example, by developing technologies to obtain radionuclides for nuclear medicine. An agreement was also signed on the development of technical specifications to substantiate the construction of a low-power NPP in Kyrgyzstan.
Rosatom’s Director General noted that newcomers to the ‘nuclear club’ that want to rely on low-carbon sources would be the main points of growth for the nuclear energy industry over the next 20–30 years.