Cutting-edge Russian nuclear technology to help Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Cutting-edge Russian nuclear technology to help Sri Lanka

5 February, 2023

It is common knowledge that Russia controls the best nuclear power technology and dominates the supply chains for nuclear energy. In 2021, there were 439 nuclear reactors operating around the world, 38 of them in Russia. Additional 42 nuclear reactors were set up using Russian technology, and 15 more were under construction with Russian support at the end of 2021.

Many counries place their trust on Russian technology, and as such 18 Russian nuclear reactors are located around in Europe, notably in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland, and Bulgaria, all being highly developed nations.

No other country has been able to match the advanced Russian technology in nuclear energy, which is why Europe continues to import raw materials from Russia and seeks Russian technology. Additionally, India and Hungary continue to be among the nations that Russia has assisted with nuclear power plants.

Environmental impact

The younger generations of the 21st century are highly concerned of the environment and lay emphasis on sustainability. Many people believe that nuclear power plants are harmful to the environment and most importantly are unconvinced that it matches the trending sustainability goals most organisations and countries are trying to achieve.

The statements and statistics given below substantiate the fact that nuclear power is generally beneficial to any nation.

* Electricity generation by nuclear power is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than any other energy source such as oil, coal, and gas, with the exception of the initial construction cost. One of the other advantages of nuclear power is that, unlike traditional power sources, which can fluctuate over time, there is little possibility of cost inflation. This could have a significant positive impact on Sri Lanka’s current situation and lessen the strain on the country’s finances. 

*Nuclear energy generates little waste since the fuel is extremely energy dense. As such, the quantity of used nuclear fuel is much smaller than any other conventional energy source needed to produce energy. 

*The use of nuclear energy enables countries to prevent air pollution and subsequently reduces the harmful effects on the human body. 

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), some nations have been able to prevent over 471 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, which is more than all other sustainable energy sources put together and is the equivalent of removing 100 million vehicles off the road. As such the installment of nuclear power stations will lead to a major reduction in pollution, lung cancer, acid rain and cardiovascular illnesses.

Long-term benefit

 Critics say that humans and the environment are negatively impacted by uranium mining for nuclear power plants, although credible articles and studies claim that open pit mining is significantly less detrimental to the environment and to miners themselves. Subsequently, the construction of nuclear power plants may require a significant number of resources such as metal and concrete at the initial stages. However, we must keep in mind that nuclear energy will be extremely beneficial for many generations to come in the long-term.

Russia is currently number one in the world for the most concurrent nuclear reactor construction projects; three units in Russia and 34 units abroad are under implementation. Being the closest SAARC countries to Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh have also installed nuclear power plants; two in India and one in Bangladesh with the help of Russian technology to support their power systems.

As India and Bangladesh that are Sri Lanka’s closest neighbours, share a lot in common in terms of climate, cultures, and status of economy, it is pertinent to conclude that Sri Lanka will greatly benefit from this technology. 

Nuclear power plants will enable the country’s citizens and organisations to unwind from the continued power outages and spend quality lives and operate businesses unhindered. However,  numerous variables should be taken into account and carefully considered to develop Sri Lanka on par with other South Asian countries and to make it a safer and greener home for future generations. 

The writer is a member of the National Sciences and Technology Commission.