We have to admit that we know less than we might about Russian nuclear energy culture. We do know that it is a major player in the international marketplace and is making deals with any country that has even glanced in the direction of nuclear energy. We know the country has 31 units working currently, generating about 135 billion kWh per year or 16% of Russia’s electricity generation. And we know that most of the plants are clustered in the western quarter of the country – presumably, some of the electricity generated finds its way over to eastern Europe. See here for more.
Regardless of what we don’t know, it really doesn’t surprise us much that Russia is reaffirming its commitment to new plants:
"I believe it is possible to support the application of the Energy Ministry and Rosatom for the additional capitalization of the corporation to the tune of 50 billion rubles," Vladimir Putin said.
Putin said nuclear power plants should generate 25%-30% of Russia's electricity and pledged more allocations to the corporation, despite the ongoing economic crisis. He said 26 nuclear reactors were to be built to reach this target.
Though some recent stories that Russia might slow down its program have pushed Putin to say something now, we noticed a fair number of the stories put it in context of the economic downturn:
The much-anticipated electricity reform, which was meant to head off looming power shortages and depends on new investments from energy companies, is being threatened by the global economic crisis.
Only weeks ago, several energy companies and the gas monopoly Gazprom, which also manages power assets, said they were considering substantial cuts in their investment programs.
We suspect Gazprom might have gotten a call from Putin’s office.
"We should not by any means abandon the plans that were made before," Putin said during a visit to a nuclear plant in Central Russia, the RIA-Novosti agency reported. "The rules of the game do not change during play."
And the call would have sounded something like that.
We almost feel this isn’t a story. Of course Russia is going to build new nuclear plants. Of course the economic downturn might slow things down a bit. It’s almost too obvious.
Putin in a display of national strength. We’re surprised he doesn’t just strangle the fish.