Russia’s Atomexpo 2024 breaks records

28 March 2024

Russia’s annual International Forum on Nuclear Energy, Atomexpo, which was recently held over two days in Sochi on the Black Sea coast set a record for the number of participating countries. Atomexpo-2024 organised by Rosatom, was held at the Sirius science & arts park in Sochi. The Sirius Federal Territory was established in 2020 has a special status and management system with an experimental legal regime. The forum attracted more than 4,500 people from 75 countries.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Rosatom Director Alexey Likhachev, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi (by video link), Head of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Sama Bilbao-y-Leon, and Head of the Council of the Sirius Federal Territory Elena Shmeleva.

Likhachev described the thirteenth Atomexpo was record-breaking “in terms of the number of participants, the number of international experts, and the number of countries that have officially sent their delegations”. He said Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Iraq were participating for the first time. He noted “the special, privileged participation of representatives of Africa” in the forum. “It is there that today lies the huge potential for the development of atomic technologies,” he added.

He said the theme of forum was “Clean energy: creating the future together”. He added: “We can only build a clean energy future together with all countries, regardless of borders.” The two keywords were “future” and “together”. Discussion would focus on fourth generation nuclear technologies. “Only with all countries can we build a clean energy future for our planet,” he concluded.

Grossi noted in his speech that the forum was an important milestone in the global calendar of atomic events: “Atomexpo is very important in the context of the search for innovative energy solutions and discussions about the future of nuclear energy,” he said. “Rosatom develops innovative technologies: small modular reactors, III + generation reactors and IV generation reactors. Three years ago, together we took part in the pouring of the first concrete into the base of the world's first fast lead coolant reactor, Brest-OD-300. The IAEA will participate in such projects. We note technologies that are aimed at the future and the implementation of which is now beginning.”

He added: "Undoubtedly, 'Rosatom' plays an important role in the context of developing technologies that play a role in the energy supply of the future. And not only within its own country but also in a global sense. I have had the opportunity to personally visit some of the well-known projects developed by Rosatom. He noted that Rosatom' is implementing projects in Turkiye, Egypt, Bangladesh, and many other countries. “These are significant achievements at the international level," he said.

Sama Bilbao-y-Leon referred to the declaration launched by 25 countries on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Conference last year, to triple nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050, and also referenced the recent Nuclear Energy Summit held in Brussels. She highlighted the need for harmonisation of energy, industrial and financial policies in the development of nuclear technology. “By increasing investment and developing global supply chains, labour, and capabilities, we can truly apply nuclear energy globally at the scale and speed needed.”

She praised the role of Rosatom, which has shown how nuclear power projects can be completed on time and on budget. She said the global nuclear industry needs to increase cooperation with governments and civil society to realise the future of clean energy through nuclear use.

These speeches were followed by a video link to the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk, which is the site of the Brest-OD-300 being built as part of the pilot demonstration power complex (ODEK) under the Breakthrough (Proryv) project intended to demonstrate closed fuel cycle technology. SCC has been responsible for implementing the ODEK project since 2011 which will also include a module for fabrication and refabrication of nuclear fuel (MFR) and a module for reprocessing irradiated fuel. The MFR is now complete and the first tests of the system using dummy fuel was shown at at the forum (pictured below, left). The experiment was introduced by Yevgeny Adamov (pictured right), the designer of the Brest reactor. He said clean energy was not possible without nuclear and that the key was fast reactor development, which would enable a closed fuel cycle.

Following the demonstration, Likhachev invited Grossi to Seversk to attend the launch of the Brest reactor, which is expected in 2027.

During the two days of the forum, the role of nuclear power in the energy, industrial, ecological, logistic, digital, health, scientific and educational fields were discussed in more than 30 parallel sessions. These included new technologies, digital finance, the northern sea route, rare earth metals, renewable energies, hydrogen, waste management, quantum technologies, fusion, the role of women and many other subjects.

Traditionally, at Atomexpo, significant partnership and business agreements are signed. Throughout the history of the forum, the number of such agreements has exceeded 500, and their total cost is estimated at $63bn. In addition, an exhibition provided a showcase for the main companies of the global nuclear industry and related sectors.

Among the agreements signed this year were an MOU between Rosatom’s fuel company TVEL and Chinese companies Limac Company and Dalian Baoyuan Nuclear Equipment in the field of decommissioning and radioactive waste management. Rosatom signed a MOU with the Serbian Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia on cooperation in the field of nuclear medicine. Rosatom and the government of Primorsky Krai (Russian far east) signed an agreement for a feasibility study and siting options for floating NPPs. Rosatom also signed an agreement with Russia's TSS Group on the formation of a joint venture for the construction and operation of floating NPPs for foreign markets. The Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS) signed a MOU with Rosatom for cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

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