Kazakhstan has undertaken research into five possible sites for the construction of a NPP according to Mazhyn Skakov, deputy director-general for research at the National Nuclear Centre. Skakov said the five sites are Ulken, on the western shore of Lake Balkhash in the south; Kurchatov, in the northeast close to the border with Russia; Kostanay, on the Tobol River in northern Kazakhstan; Taraz, on the Talas River in the south near the border with Kyrgyzstan; and Aktau, on the western shore of the Caspian sea. Aktau is the site of a 52MWe BN-350 fast breeder reactor that was shut down permanently in 1999. The Ulken and Kurchatov sites are preferred. The other sites were less suitable geologically or faced opposition from local communities. Skakov said a Generation III or III+ light water reactor was favoured.
Earlier in November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission said Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, is developing capabilities to implement “all stages of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle”. The IAEA said Kazakhstan has a well-developed scientific research base, including three research reactors in operation and several other nuclear installations. It also has 25 years of experience operating the Aktau unit. More than 80% of electricity in Kazakhstan is produced from fossil fuels. The IAEA said that due to a desire to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, diversify primary energy sources and curtail greenhouse gas emissions, Kazakhstan is considering the potential role for nuclear power in its energy mix.