Kazakhstan mulls construction of second nuclear power plant

By Vusala Abbasova August 5, 2022

Kazakhstan is ranked as the world’s largest uranium producer, holding about 12% of the world’s recoverable uranium resources.

The largest country in Central Asia could build a second nuclear power plant (NPC) after the start of construction of the first.


The statement came from Kazakh Deputy Energy Minister Zhandos Nurmaganbetov during a press conference at the Central Communications Service (CCS) on Wednesday.


“If Kazakhstan has set a course for carbon neutrality, there is no choice but to build several nuclear power plants,” Nurmaganbetov said.


Nurmaganbetov believes that the Irtysh River in northeastern Kazakhstan is an ideal location for the construction of the new nuclear power plant from a technical point of view.


“Kazakhstan’s second nuclear power plant will probably be built near the town of Kurchatov, on the bank of the Irtysh River,” he said.


Kazakhstan is ranked as the world’s largest uranium producer, holding about 12% of the world’s recoverable uranium resources. Nuclear security has always been a top priority for the government of Nur-Sultan. No uranium in the country has been used to generate electricity for decades. Kazakhstan opened a facility in 1973 to generate electricity and desalinate water. Yet in 1999 the facility closed after the Kazakh government joined the global non-proliferation regime.


Kazakhstan offers competitive advantages for the development of nuclear energy, which is considered a green technology as it generates zero carbon emissions.


Kazakhs have been discussing the construction of a nuclear power plant since 1997. Last year, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, urged energy officials not to put the issue aside. He said the decision to build a nuclear power plant in the country should be made anyway, however unpopular it may be. Last September, Tokayev ordered the government and the Samruk-Kazyna National Wealth Fund to thoroughly study the possibility of developing a nuclear energy industry in Kazakhstan. According to the President, by 2030 Kazakhstan will face a shortage of electricity.


After deciding on the site for the construction of a nuclear power plant, the Kazakh authorities are studying the technologies of potential suppliers. According to reports, the country’s first nuclear power plant will be built near Lake Balkhash in the Almaty region.


Building nuclear power plants is expensive, and some analysts say the cost to build one unit could be around $5 billion. Additional costs include the storage and disposal of radioactive waste, as well as the subsequent dismantling of spent reactors decades later.

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