When a country sits on the world's largest proven natural gas reserves, possessing nearly a quarter of the known total, it plans an energy future dominated by natural gas plants, right?
Not if the country is Russia. The vast land with 47.6 trillion of the planet's 208.4 trillion cubic meters of the stuff is plowing 1 trillion rubles - $32 billion - into nuclear power development, state-owned news agency Itar-Tass reports. And that's just through 2015.
As I noted on my Weinberg blog last November, Russia plans to generate up to half of its electricity from nuclear by 2050, and up to 80 percent by the end of the century, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA). Much of that will come from "fast reactors" - a different type of reactor than those that operate around the world today. Fast reactors can burn nuclear waste and breed their own additional fuel. Developers include Bill Gates' TerraPower nuclear company.
What about the natural gas? As of 2012, fossil fuels of all types furnished 67.7 percent of Russia's electricity, according to the CIA, and the natural gas share was 48 percent, WNA notes. But that percentage will shrink as nuclear increases.
Instead of expanding the natural gas share at home, Russia and its state-controlled gas company Gazprom will continue to profit from selling it abroad. As WNA notes,
"Gazprom has cut back on the very high level of natural gas supplies for electricity generation because it can make about five times as much money by exporting the gas to the west (27% of EU gas comes from Russia). In 2012 Gazprom exports are expected to reach $84.5 billion, $61 billion of this to Europe for 150 billion cubic meters."
In other words, sell the gas, build the nukes. As today is Friday, allow me to glibly say how that faintly evokes the classic line from the film Night of the Living Dead, "kill the brain, kill the ghoul."
But I digress. Or maybe not. You see, in the end, he with the most energy wins.
Photo from Presidential Press Information Office via Wikimedia.
More Russian and other national nuclear scenarios on SmartPlanet:
- The secret U.S.-Russian nuclear fusion project
- Newcomers like Bangladesh will help drive nuclear growth
- MIT experts: Nuclear exit would cost U.S. environment, economy
- Russia banks on Vietnamese nuclear
- Just a partial nuclear restart would save Japan $20 billion
There's more than one way to harness an atom. A short sampler of recent SmartPlanet stories on alternative nuclear power:
- Alternative nuclear power race heats up as Canadian company enters
- How thorium can burn nuclear waste and generate energy
- To Mars in 30 days, on nuclear fusion
- The future of energy is thorium. Even 12-year-olds know that.
- Turning Japan’s nuclear past into its future
- New York Times recognizes thorium and other alternative nuclear power
- And the DOE energy innovation award goes to … a new type of nuclear power
- Top scientists recommend alternative nuclear for UK