On 26th of April 2010 ENEL’s CEO Fulvio Conti has signed with the President of INTER RAO UES Boris Y. Kovalchuk a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation that foresee, among other things, the joint development of a project for the construction of new
Nuclear power plant in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
The MoU foresee large cooperation in building new plants and technological innovation, energy efficiency and distribution in Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe.
The future nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad (the first private-public partnership in the nuclear sector in Russia) will consist of two units of 1,117 MW each, it will employ the so-called third generation VVER 1200 technology, and it is expected to enter into operation between 2016 and 2018, with a significant proportion of the electricity to be exported to the nearby European markets.
But this project has already received sharp criticism because of poor and incomplete documentation. Very unclear information were provided on how to manage waste arising from the plant, on the dismantling of the reactors, on the possible risks associated with major accidents, or of the population own evacuation strategies in case of accidents.
Even the chosen location has raised enormous doubts, since the groundwater in the area are not deep enough to ensure the safety of the plant and to exclude the risk of contamination of groundwater. Another concern is aroused by the fact that the future nuclear power plant would be built in an area of major international air traffic, but its reactors are not designed to withstand a large impact in case of aircraft accidents.
The Russian environmental organization Ecodefense has promoted, with others, a survey of local residents. The result is that 67% of the population is opposed to the project, considering it unnecessary, damaging and financially risky.
But in the early months of 2010, bulldozers began digging. This although Rosatom, the Russian giant state utility for nuclear energy, with its subsidiary Inter RAO UES, responsible for energy export policies and for the relations with foreign investors, is still seeking foreign financing to complete the financial plan. A critical step, since the work is currently covered by the national budget for only 50%. Despite trumpeted statements to the local press, no agreement was formally signed for foreign investments on the plant, nor for the sale of the produced energy, which, according to the programs of Inter Rao, should go to Germany, Sweden, Lithuania and Poland. The deal does not seem beneficial for any european utility. None except ENEL, which confirmed its interest by signing the agreement on the occasion of the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy.
ENEL could thus become the first foreign company involved in building a nuclear power plant in Russia.