The other great European energy dependency: Russian nuclear fuel

Vienna, May 8 (Latest) .- On March 1, a Russian plane landed in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, despite the closure of the airspace of the European Union (EU) to ships from Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine . The exemption was due to its precious cargo: nuclear fuel from the Russian state-owned company Rosatom.

“The Slovak economy now has reserves of another strategic product,” Economy Minister Richard Sulík assured that day, to explain the arrival of transport despite the sanctions.

Five EU countries with almost 40 million inhabitants – Bulgaria, Slovakia, Finland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – have Soviet-made nuclear power plants that depend on fuel exported by Rosatom.

Nuclear power production is very important in all these republics – four of them former communists – and is between 40 and 60% of the total.

A POTENTIAL PROBLEM

“These countries really have a problem because an important part of their electricity production comes from these plants,” Vladimir Slivyak, a Russian expert in nuclear energy who currently lives in Germany, explains to Efe by phone.

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“Nobody can give them guarantees that they will receive the fuel and maintenance of the plants in the future,” he adds.

Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) has already shown its concern in recent years about the dependency of these reactors on a single company.

Rosatom is the supplier of nuclear fuel for the Soviet-designed VVER series of reactors. Its reactors use a different fuel than Western-designed power plants.

The situation of the older VVER-440 reactors is different from the newer VVER-1000 series because no Western supplier can provide fuel for the former.

For the VVER-1000 reactors, the US Westinghouse consortium has developed an alternative, although it is more expensive than the Russian original.

ALTERNATIVES TO ROSATOM

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