Uzbek’s decision to go nuclear is purely economic – Jurabek

(By Wana Kalala in Voronezh, Russia)

UZBEKISTAN’S decision to pursue a nuclear power plant programme was purely an economic one, says director of the Uzbek Atom Agency (Uzatom).

Jurabek Mirzamakhmudov, who is also Uzbek first deputy minister of energy, said his country was not trying to focus on trends but needed to meet its growing energy demand.

Addressing a plenary session at the Atomexpo XI in Sochi on Monday, Mirzamakhmudov said his country was looking to increase its sources of energy.

“Yes, we are rich in natural gas. We are planning to develop our power generation based on natural gas, on renewables either solar or wind. However, with the current trend of the economic development of the country and the growth of the population, in our estimation even those measures will not be enough to cover the issue of demand. And one of the key reasons to cover this demand was to construct the nuclear [plant],” he said.

Mirzamakhmudov said another key reason for going nuclear was that despite Uzbekhistan having natural gas and other natural resources, these were depleting.

“They are not always available. Therefore, new nuclear generation plants operate for a hundred years. So this considering is for the long-term vision,” he said.

Mirzamakhmudov said nuclear power would also bring about development of the country.

“The nuclear [programme] will bring development in science, in human resources, in other industries… and of course at the present time we could witness that it is one of the safe, reliable, clean and cost competitive sources of energy. So these were some of the primary reasons for going nuclear,” he said.

Mirzamakhmudov said Uzbek, which had signed an agreement with Russian State Nuclear Corporation (ROSATOM), had approached the challenge of human resources for nuclear technology by training its citizens and engaging experts.

“The important thing was to prepare local human resources for the construction and operation of the plant. This is a very key issue. So although we are newcomers [to the nuclear power plant industry], we are not newcomers in nuclear science itself because we have had a nuclear scientific research reactor since 1959, so we have the basis for physics, mathematics, nuclear science. However, we will be working actively on preparing training together with ROSATOM … and other organisations and partners in order to train our people in other places as well,” said Mirzamakhmudov.

“So this is key priority. We’ll be working on and we will provide best practices for our people to operate nuclear power plants… but together with this, already we have about four experts from Russia, Czech Republic working from ROSATOM agency and we’re planning to attract more so that they can show us, train us, and we work together on these issues.”

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