By many measures, Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy company, Rosatom, has primacy in the global nuclear energy market. At any given moment, the firm provides technical expertise, enriched fuel, and equipment to nuclear reactors around the world. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and, more acutely, the Russian military’s dangerous actions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have many countries rethinking their dependence on Russian nuclear products and searching for alternatives. Additionally, the ensuing global effort to cripple Russian access to international markets calls into question the viability of current contracts, government licensing, and financial instruments involved in Russia’s nuclear exports. Concurrently, the invasion has highlighted the lack of energy source diversification across Europe. Headlines have focused on how several European countries decided to phase out or delay plans to build new nuclear power plants in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi disaster and, instead, increase imports of Russian oil and natural gas to feed their electric grids’ baseload needs. Now, in response to the sudden European effort to minimize dependence on Russian imports, the United States has sent tankers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to European ports. Additionally, the United States and partners are releasing a round of oil from their strategic stockpiles to stabilize market prices. For oil and natural gas supplies to Europe, there are some immediate alternatives available. However, for nuclear power plants, swapping in alternative supplies is causing serious dilemmas and could lead to stranded assets.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 17th May 2022 read more »