Publication Laka-library:
Russian Grip on EU Nuclear Power

AuthorPatricia Lorenz
DateMay 2022
Classification (RUSSIA - EXPORT / ROSATOM)
Remarks Patricia Lorenz (FoE Europe) presented her new report “Russian Grip on EU Nuclear Power” showing the crucial dependency of several EU countries on nuclear fuel and other services from Russian state companies (Rosatom). The report maps out the situation the EU nuclear power generators find themselves in and which options are on the table. The fact that nuclear power is not securing energy security for the EU needs to be taken into account in the European Parliament’s upcoming decision on the possible inclusion of gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy. Vladimir Slivyak is Co-chairman of Russian environmental group Ecodefense, the Right Livelihood Award 2021 laureate and co- founder of the Defuel Russia’s war machine. He talked about how Russia was stimulating the dependence of European nuclear industry on its fuels and technology which is funding Vladimir Putin’s regime and war in Ukraine. He called on the EU to cut nuclear dependence on Russia, which has become a matter of European security.
This press conference was recorded and can be watched here.

From the publication:

Executive Summary
This report maps out the situation the nuclear industry finds itself in since Russia
invaded Ukraine. When compared to gas and oil from Russia, where discussions on
sanctions, boycotts, terms of payment started right away, nuclear power has managed
somewhat to stay out of the limelight.
While the volume compared to gas and oil is certainly smaller, the Russian nuclear
export business is a factor in its foreign policy and part of the Russian war machine; the
heavy reliance on uranium and nuclear fuel made this possible.
However, with the war continuing and war crimes a fact, on April 7 the European
Parliament agreed on another resolution, demanding a full embargo on imports of oil,
coal, nuclear fuel and gas from Russia, believing that the Russian industry and experts,
namely Rosatom, can be replaced by Western ones.
However, this might not be the case, as this report shows:
Rosatom became the leader of the USD 500 billion global nuclear energy market,
building 37% of all new reactors in the world, eclipsing the United States’ meagre 7%
share. However, claims about the status and progress of the new nuclear power plant
project should be taken with a grain of salt, as an analysis by an independent Russian
expert has shown.
Rosatom/TVEL is the supplier of nuclear fuel for the VVER reactor series. They use
different fuel to that of Western design nuclear power plants, thus creating severe
dependency for those countries still operating the nuclear power plants they built in
Communist times. The situation for VVER-440 units is different from the larger and
newer VVER-1000 series, because no Western supplier can provide fuel for the smaller
plants. For countries operating only VVER-440 plants, Slovakia and Hungary, about half
of their domestic power generation is at risk.
Some countries (Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic) already started switching to
Western suppliers, but Westinghouse is the only one already supplying VVER-1000 fuel
assemblies. On top of likely technical problems with the replacement fuel which have
occurred in the past decades it is clear, that Westinghouse will not be able to handle the
large number of new customers asking for fuel – Westinghouse will first need to create
new production capacities. Short-term solutions are not likely while some EU leaders
started calling for an embargo also on nuclear fuel from Russian state companies.
Less known but of key importance are the many companies active in nuclear services.
Among them is Škoda JS, a former Czech nuclear company, which in 2004 was bought by
OMZ, the Russian heavy machinery manufacturer, itself owned by Gazprombank, a
private bank owned by Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. Škoda JS is indispensable for
keep the nuclear power plants Temelin, Dukovany, Mochovce, Bohunice, Paks and
Kozloduj operating. The Czech government and the Czech utility ČEZ are desperately
trying to find a solution, including nationalization, also connections to FSB were
The report also gives an overview of the possible alternative vendors for new reactors,
which are very limited. On top of the usual construction time and costs overruns, both
the French EPR and the US AP-1000 have encountered several design failures. The South
Korean APR-1400 is not recognized as a Gen III+ reactor in Europe, Chinese reactors are
already excluded for security reasons in UK and the Czech Republic.