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Uzbekistan and Russia Sign Agreement to Construct Central Asia’s First Nuclear Power Plant

Russia and Uzbekistan signed an agreement for Moscow to build a small nuclear power plant in the Central Asian country, with construction slated to begin this summer.

The agreement was finalized during talks in the Uzbek capital between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Mirziyoyev emphasized the project’s importance, noting Uzbekistan’s substantial uranium reserves. Putin pledged to “do everything to work effectively in Uzbekistan’s [nuclear energy] market.”

If implemented, the small modular reactor (SMR) plant will be the first of its kind in Central Asia.

Rosatom announced that the plant will be constructed in the Jizzakh region, west of Tashkent.

Currently, none of the five ex-Soviet Central Asian republics have nuclear power plants. However, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, both uranium producers, have expressed the need for nuclear energy to support their growing economies.

The plant will feature a Russian design with a total capacity of 330 MW, comprising six reactors each with a capacity of 55 MW. Rosatom will serve as the general contractor, with local companies involved in the construction.

‘Not Just a Preliminary Agreement’ The project will utilize Russia’s RITM-200N reactor technology, adapted from marine use for land-based deployment. RITM-200 reactors have been operational on Russian icebreakers since 2012, with 10 reactors manufactured and the first three in operation in the Arctic.

The agreement was signed by Rosatom’s engineering division Atomstroyexport and Uzbekistan’s State Directorate for the Construction of Nuclear Power Plants, part of Uzatom, the state agency for nuclear energy development.

Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s director-general, stated that this contract affirms Rosatom’s “undisputed global leadership in nuclear energy.” He confirmed, “This is not just a preliminary agreement; we are starting construction this summer.”

Uzatom director Azim Akhmedkhadjaev projected that Uzbekistan’s energy demand will nearly double by 2050, stressing the need for a stable baseload power source alongside renewable energy.

Global Interest in New Nuclear Akhmedkhadjaev noted the global increase in interest in both large-capacity power plants and small modular reactors.

Uzbekistan, with a population of 33 million, is turning to nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost electricity generation capacity.

A similar small nuclear plant using the RITM-200N reactor is under construction in Ust-Kuyga, Yakutia, in Russia’s Far East, with the first unit expected to begin operation in 2028. This facility will supply power to industrial enterprises, including mining operations.

Rosatom highlighted the advantages of small nuclear power plants, such as shorter construction times and scalable capacity.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, about 50 SMR projects and concepts are in various stages of development worldwide. Russia claims to be the only country with practical SMR construction experience, having commissioned the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov in 2020, which supplies energy to Pevek in Chukotka.

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