President Vladimir Putin: Good day, dear colleagues. I am very happy to see you all here. The subject we are to discuss today is an important one and also very interesting – international energy cooperation. Of course, this provides us with a good excuse to take a look at all Russia’s energy issues, and this concerns above all nuclear energy.
Yesterday I was in St Petersburg for the opening of a new bridge across the Neva River. The bridge took four years to build and more than 8 billion roubles was invested in its construction. Work has gone on here, too, over the last three-and-a-half or four years, on the nuclear power plant, with total investment of 33 billion roubles.
That is not all that has been achieved over recent years. I am just pointing this out to show that Russia is developing quite energetically in crucial areas such as infrastructure, energy and transport. A lot remains to be done but the efforts we have all made over these last years are giving us concrete results. It is important to make plans for the nearest future. As you know, the government has prepared a medium-term development programme.
We have plenty to talk about at this State Council Presidium meeting. As you know, the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant’s third power generating unit was launched today at 5a.m. and connected to the Russian national power grid. This new facility makes use of unique technical solutions and I would like to congratulate the builders, designers and scientists who worked on it. In essence, it represents the shape of things to come in the field of nuclear energy – nuclear energy that is economically effective and safe, conforming to the strictest environmental standards.
The new unit’s launch is the result of the work by many different groups of people – the teams of scientists, designers and the people who built the machinery. These specialists, workers, technicians, scientists and engineers who were involved come from all over the country, from St Petersburg, the Volga region, Moscow and other parts of Russia. We once again have confirmation that Russia’s nuclear energy sector has every possibility for further development. We have built up valuable experience and we have well-established traditions. Russian specialists and nuclear energy technology are competitive in every way.
As you know, we work actively with other countries. What has been demonstrated and introduced here is used by our specialists not just in Russia but also abroad. Some of the best models in the world have been demonstrated here today at the Kalinin Nuclear Power plant, especially in the area of power station control and management.
We all know that supplies of fossil fuels are limited. Throughout the world a search is going on today to find and expand the use of new sources of energy. Nuclear energy is getting a lot of attention in this respect and Russia should also strengthen its position in this very important area.
Growth in production and the development of the housing and utilities sector require consistent and balanced efforts to develop the country’s energy sector. This development should represent quality growth through the introduction of innovative and energy-saving technology. This is the approach that forms the foundation of the country’s already approved Energy Strategy through to 2020.
Work is currently underway on a number of major, modern energy facilities. Facilities to come on line by 2010 include two new power generating units at nuclear power plants, and the service life of ten existing nuclear power plants in Russia has been extended.
A lot of work in this area and a lot of scientific research has been carried out of late. The sector’s chief, Alexander Rumyantsev, told me just before what resources have been invested in this area. The work carried out has been consistent, determined and serious. How much money, approximately, have been spent on research and reconstruction?
Alexander Rumyantsev: Each reconstructed unit of the same capacity requires investment of approximately 15 percent of the overall basic value. Extending the service life of the first Leningrad unit with capacity of one gigawatt required investment of 15 percent of the cost of building a new unit. This kind of reconstruction project gives us a new unit for 15 years at a fraction of the cost of building an entirely new unit. We have already carried out such work at the Leningrad, Brest and Novovoronezh power plants; restrictions have been lifted at the Kursk power plant, and now we also have today’s launch. In all then, over the last three-and-a-half years we have obtained 4.5 gigawatts of capacity either by extending the service lives of existing facilities or by building new capacity.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, the priority here is to ensure strict safety standards throughout the whole technological process. Our requirements have to correspond to the highest international standards. Also, nuclear energy facilities and facilities where radioactive materials are stored must be reliably protected from criminal action of any sort. Finally, we must work consistently to minimise the negative impact of nuclear energy production and facilities on the environment, including introducing modern technology for the treatment and processing of nuclear materials. We have seen an example of this today, and the work was done for two units at once, as the specialists proposed. This is the pace at which we need to pursue our work in the future.
Meanwhile, we have already accumulated more than 70 million tons of solid radioactive waste in Russia and the infrastructure needed to treat and process this waste remains insufficient. The amount of treated waste has more than doubled compared to 2001 but the overall rate at which waste is being treated is still very low.
We still must deal with the very pressing issues of processing spent nuclear reactors from Russian naval vessels and rehabilitating territory contaminated as a result of industrial and defence activities.
There has long since been a need to resolve these problems and we cannot postpone them any longer. In this respect we must make effective use of all our own resources and also the possibilities offered by international cooperation.
Russia is in close and ongoing contact with the international organisations, above all, with the International Atomic Energy Agency. We are open to broad cooperation with our foreign partners both on a bilateral and multilateral basis.
The State Council Working Group has analysed international cooperation practice in the area of nuclear and radiation safety and has drafted a number of organisational and legal decisions aimed at making such cooperation more effective and more forthcoming in results. We will examine these decisions today and, if necessary, formulate specific instructions for the government and the agencies concerned.
Yury Yevdokimov took the initiative in this work and this is not by chance, given that these issues have been of high priority in his field for a long time now. Solutions can be found for all the problems we face, but as I said, we need to unite our efforts in order to resolve them quickly and in the most reliable and effective way.