Conclusion of the Commission on the Assessment of the Advisability of Nuclear Power Development in the Republic of Belarus

By V.T.Kazazyan, Secretary of the Commission
Translated by Yelena Krasney, ECOLINE-Belarus

The Commission on the Assessment of the Advisability of Nuclear Power Development in the Republic of Belarus created by the decree of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus of the 31st of March 1998 No. 88 r started to work on the first of July, 1998, and held four meetings. Protocols of the meetings and registration sheets are attached. [Translators note: materials are attached only to the commission's original report, and are not available on-line.]

In order to inform the population of the Republic of Belarus about the activities of the Commission, representatives of the mass media were invited. Lists of the journalists invited to the Commission's meetings are attached.

For the purpose of the comprehensive analysis of the issue of the advisability of nuclear power development in Belarus, the following reports were presented to the Commission:

  • State and problems of the fuel and energy complex in the Republic of Belarus. Speaker - Molochko F.I.
  • Fuel and energy policy of Belarus. Directions of development. Co-report - Ermashkevich V.N.
  • Short-term and long-term development of the energy balance of the Republic of Belarus. Speaker - Sivak A.V.
  • Local fuel types of Belarus and their possible output. Speaker - Lishtvan I.I.
  • State and prospects of renewable energy use in Belarus. Speaker - Mikhalevich D.A.
  • On solar power: state and prospects. Speaker - Ignatishchev R.M.
  • Role of energy conservation in solving the problem of energy supplies in the Republic of Belarus. Speaker - Dubovik L.A.
  • State and prospect of development of the installation with steam-gas cycle in Belarus. Speaker - Korduba V.G.
  • State and trends of nuclear power in the world. Speaker - Martynenko O.G.
  • On territorial aspects and city planning conditions for the energy complex of the Republic of Belarus. Speaker - Nichkasov A.I.
  • Assessment of the efficiency of the introduction of nuclear power sources into the energy system of Belarus. Speaker - Yakushev A.P.
  • On the relative energy significance of nuclear power plants with installed capacity of 2.4 million kWt. Co-report - Ignatishchev R.M.
  • Attitude of the population of Belarus to the prospects of the energy sector development in the country. Speaker - Babosov E.M.
  • Information and analytical data on the state and prospects of nuclear power production in the world, prepared by I.N.Smolyar, G.F.Lepin, V.N.Ermashkevich.

In addition, the following materials were submitted to the Commission on 29th of December, 1998:

  1. Information and analytical report "Results of the polling of the experts and the population on the problems of the way out of the energy crisis and prospects of nuclear power development in Belarus". Minsk, 1998.
  2. I.N.Smolyar, G.F.Lepin, V.N.Ermashkevich. "Assessment of the advisability of nuclear power development in the Republic of Belarus".
  3. Conclusion of the International Scientific-Practical Conference "Nuclear Power: Economic, Environmental and Social Problems" held on 6-7 April 1998.
  4. Program of the nuclear power development in the Republic of Belarus (draft - Minsk-93).

All the above-mentioned documents are attached to the Conclusion.

After detailed discussion of the materials, on 15-16 October, 1998, work groups on the following directions were created:

  • Energy saving. Head - A.A.Savanovich, vice-chairman of the State Committee on Energy Saving and Energy Inspection.
  • Non-traditional energy sources, including local and renewable energy resources. Head - F.I.Molochko, director of Scientific-Research State Enterprise "Belarusian Fuel and Energy Institute".
  • The development of installations with a steam and gas cycle. Head - V.G.Korduba, vice-president of the State Concern "Belenergo".
  • Nuclear power. Head - O.G.Martynenko, director of the Institute of Heat- and Mass-Exchange".

The above-mentioned directions were discussed in the work groups; materials were presented and reported at the working meeting of the Commission.

The following materials have been presented:

  • On energy saving, A.A.Savanovich reported on the Concept of the State Committee on Energy Saving and Energy Inspection (Attachment 1).
  • Head of the work group "Development of installations with a steam and gas cycle" V.G.Korduba presented to the Commission the Decision (Attachment 2).
  • Head of the work group "Non-traditional sources of energy, including local and renewable energy resources" F.I.Molochko presented the study "The outlooks for the use of the local fuel types and renewable energy sources in the Republic of Belarus" (Attachment 3).

Regarding the expediency of the nuclear power development in the country, members of the work group disagreed.

Some of the participants, led by the Chairman of the work group O.G.Martynenko, prepared a Decision, in which they have stated the need for and the obligation for nuclear power plant construction in Belarus, with commissioning of the first block by 2010.

Other participants, led by I.N.Smolyar, presented a Conclusion on the inexpedience of nuclear power development in the Republic of Belarus and suggested introducing a moratorium for nuclear power plant construction for the next 10-15  years.

All the materials are attached.

After studying all the materials, the Commission notes the following.

The Republic of Belarus possesses energy-consuming industries. In 1997 the total consumption of energy resources with regard to nodal transfers of energy, raw materials and light petroleum products amounted to 34.9 million tons of equivalent fuel, including:

  • Industry - 13.5 million tons of equivalent fuel (38.7%);
  • Municipal and household sector - 13.42 million tons of equivalent fuel (38.5%);
  • Agriculture - 2.94 million tons of equivalent fuel (8.42%).

Share of the local fuel and energy resources in the total balance of the country in 1997 amounted to about 14% of gross fuel and energy consumption. In the volume of imports of the country, the share of the energy resources expressed in money reaches approximately 60% and amounts to about 2 billion US dollars.

The level of economic development must be supported by the appropriate energy basis. According to the prognosis of the Ministry of Economy, consumption of electricity and heat in Belarus will reach about 55 billion K.W.H. and 99 Gcal respectively by 2015, taking into account a decrease of the energy consumption of gross domestic product by 27% due to energy savings. Based on economic expediency, at present electricity demand of Belarus is covered by 77% by the local power stations (mainly operating on imported gas), and 23% by the import of electricity from Smolensk and Ignalina nuclear power stations. In case if, according to the experts' opinion, import of electricity from Russia by 2015 will be reduced to 5 billion K.W.H. per year, than 50 billion K.W.H. should be covered by local production. Power generating equipment is so deteriorated, that only 3 of 7.4 million kWt of installed capacity will remain operative by 2015. However, taking into account the socio-economic development plan, construction of new hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants and modernization of the old ones will require the import of about 6 million kWt by 2015.

In the future, due to the local types of fuel and renewable energy sources with regard to withdrawn reserves of oil, casing-head gas and peat, and the increased use of renewable sources, their (local fuel + renewable sources) share in fuel balance can reach 5-6 million tons of equivalent fuel per year.

The Commission considered the development of capacities in the power system of the country with regard for energy saving, non-traditional energy sources, organic and nuclear fuel, and energy import. The following scenarios were analyzed:

  • the use of natural gas when commissioning the steam-and-gas plants and gas-operated steam turbines;
  • the use of the natural gas and coal when commissioning (besides already mentioned) the coal-operated steam turbine blocks;
  • the use of the natural gas and nuclear fuel;
  • the use of the natural gas and the import of electricity.

Natural gas (boiler oil as a reserve fuel) and import are the energy sources that are the most likely to cover the deficiency of the stock capacity of the energy system of the Republic of Belarus, which is predicted to begin by 2010.

In the future it is advisable to explore the question of nuclear power plant construction in Belarus or the joint development of nuclear power plants in neighboring states.

In spite of specific problems connected with the nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel handling, the consequences of accidents, the replacement of one block with another, the development of infrastructure, and the training of specialists, the actual contribution of nuclear power into energy production is significant and in 1997 was 16.4% of world energy production. Some countries either banned nuclear power, or announced a moratorium for construction of new nuclear power plants (Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Sweden). At present, the USA, Canada, UK, and Germany do not build new nuclear power plants. It needed time to take measures to improve the safety of the existing nuclear power plants, and develop improved, safer and efficient projects for nuclear power plants. At present, 437 blocks of nuclear power plants with total capacity of 3,517 MWt are in operation; while 90 blocks with total capacity of 25,140 MWt are decommissioned, and 36 blocks with total capacity of 26,813 MWt are under construction. The following countries are included into the list of states with the highest quota of nuclear power in total electricity generation: Lithuania (81%), France (78%), Belgium (60%), Ukraine (47%), Bulgaria (46%), Sweden (46%), and Slovakia (45%). Programs of nuclear power development exist in France, Japan, China, Korea, India. Argentina, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Iran, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine continue previously started construction and installation of new reactors.

Nuclear power plants with light-water shell-type pressurized reactors like PWR lead in the world nuclear power production. Schemes of new generation nuclear power plants with 600 to 1,000-1,350 MWt capacity are designed for commercial realization in the nearest future, and are based on the principle, according to which the emergency shutdown of the reactor and continuous removal of the residual heat is provided by the passive safety system without personnel involvement. For the best designs of the plants of the last generation theoretical probability of an accident with ejection of the radioactivity outside the protective shielding is 10-7 (reactor year)-1, while for nuclear power plant-92 this value is 10-9.

Nuclear power production possesses technical, fuel, and resource potential to make a significant contribution to the limitation of atmospheric pollution resulting from energy production and the provision of energy for industry and households. For example, CO2 emissions in European countries vary from 78 tons per G.W.H. in France, where 78% of electricity is produced at NPPs, to 868 tons per G.W.H. in Denmark, where nuclear power plants do not exist.

Taking into account the current attitude of our citizens toward nuclear power plant construction, the development of alternative variants for the provision of fuel and energy resources in the country, limited financial resources, and other factors, the Commissions came to the following conclusion:

  1. To use to the maximum the existing resources for the implementation of energy-saving technologies, use of alternative energy sources, modernization and construction of steam-and-gas plants.
  2. During the next 10 years it is inexpedient to start the construction of nuclear power plant, but it is necessary to continue the work for preparation of the development of nuclear power in the Republic of Belarus in the future.
  3. To continue to study the world experience in nuclear power issues (including radioactive wastes disposal and decommissioning of NPPs), carry out further technico-economic analyses of structural changes in the energy system, taking into account technico-economic aspects of the possible development of nuclear power, and develop regulations.
  4. Taking into account technical, environmental, social, economic prerequisites, safety indicators and preparedness of the necessary developmental works, the terms of nuclear power plant construction must be determined by the Government of the Republic of Belarus within the framework of fulfillment of the instruction of the President on review and revision of the main directions of energy policy.
  5. In order to ensure the possible development of nuclear power and the protection of the population, it is recommended to the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus with the aid of the National Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Emergencies develop and introduce in established order to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus the draft law "On Nuclear Power Use".

The Conclusion in clauses 1, 3, 4 and 5 is adopted at the session of the Commission on 29 December 1998 unanimously. On clause 2 nineteen members of the Commission voted for, and seven - against (V.G.Korduba proposed to make provisions for the development of nuclear power in the Republic of Belarus in the future). Protocol of voting is attached.

Chairman of the Commission P.A.Vityaz
Vice-chairman V.A.Naidunov
Vice-chairman V.G.Korduba
Secretary of the Commission V.T.Kazazyan

Members of the Commission:  

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