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Russia to emerging countries: We'll build, operate your nuclear reactors

Posting in Energy

Sign on the dotted line. Russia's Rosatom will build and operate one of these for you for 60 years. Rosatom retains ownership and handles all the hassle, like waste management. Above is the Novovoronezh II reactor under construction in Russia.

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Do you run a developing country where you'd like to build and operate nuclear reactors, but you just don't have the expertise or the money?

Then you could turn to Russia for an all-in-one 60-year bargain.

State nuclear power company Rosatom "is offering a special package deal to build and operate nuclear power stations abroad in a bid to win business from developing countries, a company official was quoted on Monday as saying," Reuters reports. "The offer to 'Build, Own, Operate' (BOO), also includes financing to countries seeking to build nuclear plants."

Rosatom, which competes against the likes of Toshiba's Westinghouse subsidiary and France's Areva to construct reactors around the world, has in the past handed over the day-to-day operations of finished reactors to utilities. Now, it's offering to hang around onsite after completion.

"Under the BOO model, Rosatom not only builds the nuclear plant, but also owns it and runs it for up to sixty years," Reuters writes, citing French publication Le Figaro. "Rosatom also delivers nuclear fuel to the plants."

"With this model, we are fully responsible for the plant's security," Le Figaro quoted Rosatom deputy CEO Nikolai Spassky as saying.

Spassky said that Turkey is already following the BOO model with the plant that Rosatom agreed in 2010 to build there (Turkey has also ordered a reactor from a French-Japanese partnership).

Rosatom has agreements to build 19 reactors outside Russia, Reuters states. According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), in addition to Turkey those countries include Vietnam, China, India, Bangladesh, Belarus, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Russia has already built nuclear plants in China, India, Iran and Ukraine, WNA notes.

It's not clear how many of the pending plants will follow the BOO model.

Russia this month announced it will invest 1 trillion rubles ($32 billion) in nuclear over the next two years alone, an expenditure that will help it expand abroad and build at home. The country plans to generate as much as 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants by the end of the century. Nuclear's share is about 16 percent today.

Given that Russia plans a fleet of  domestic "fast reactors" that can burn plutonium, it's conceivable that it would build conventional plants abroad and ship plutonium waste from those reactors back home for use as fuel (that's my speculation).

London based market research firm GlobalData has forecast 30 percent growth in global nuclear generation through 2020 as virgin nuclear countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey, Poland and others start tapping nuclear power.

Photo from Rosatom

More Russian and global nuclear deals, on SmartPlanet:

You can find a rich archive of alternative nuclear technology stories here, including thorium, molten salt, pebble beds, fast reactors, modular reactors, fusion and more.

— By on May 13, 2013, 5:28 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure