The Russian government has failed to allocate the funds that Rosatom had requested to finance a separate national project on nuclear science and technology, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on 3 November.
The Ministry of Finance budgeted only RUB24 billion ($310m) for its implementation to 2024 of the RUB339.6 billion requested. The total cost of the programme, which involves financing scientific research for the design of new types of reactors, thermonuclear fusion and a closed fuel cycle is estimated at RUB732.6 billion, Kommersant said.
Rosatom had asked for RUB339.6 billion from the state budget leaving the remaining RUB393 billion to be funded from its own civil budget for 2019.
The areas Rosatom included in its programme included the Breakthrough project on a closed nuclear fuel cycle for which, up to 2024, it planned to allocate up to RUB166.5 billion, plus RUB75.6 billion for an experimental bench base.
In addition, Rosatom wanted to allocate up to RUB152.7 billion for the development of controlled thermonuclear fusion (separate from the ITER project).
Another RUB58.8 billion was to be allocated to the development of new materials and technologies for promising energy systems such as high temperature gas-cooled reactors.
Finally, Rosatom intended to spend up to RUB279 billion for the design and construction of reference nuclear power units, including low power reactors.
In April 2020, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree according to which the government was to develop and agree on a federal programme for the development of scientific research in the field of atomic energy use to 2024 within three months. This was considered as an analogue of the national project on nuclear science, although of lower priority. In July, the government published a decree according to which the provisions on project activities applicable to national projects would also apply to the programme on nuclear science and technology.
However, according to Kommersant's sources, the Ministry of Finance, despite the presidential decree, initially resisted the inclusion of such large expenditures in the budget because of its deficit. Discussion within the government ended with the Ministry including only RUB8.17 billion in the draft budget for implementation of the programme for 2021, RUB9.46 billion for 2022 and RUB6.35 billion for 2023.
Kommersant said that, judging by the draft budget, the Ministry of Finance proposed to take into account in the new programme the financing of specialised research within the framework of other state programmes of the nuclear industry that had already been approved.