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22 Apr 2022, 12:42
Kerstine Appunn

Europe highly dependent on Russian uranium for nuclear power plants - report

Clean Energy Wire

The European nuclear power sector is highly dependent on imports of Russian uranium, according to a report by NGOs Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), the Nuclear Free Future Foundation, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Greenpeace and Ausgestrahlt. In 2020, EU countries received 20.2 percent of their uranium needs from Russia and another 19.1 percent came from Russian ally Kazakhstan, according to the report. The dependency on Russian uranium is highest in Eastern Europe, where 18 nuclear power plants are calibrated to use the hexagonal fuel elements provided by Rosatom. This Russian state corporation also has shares in uranium mines in Canada, the USA and above all Kazakhstan, making it the second largest uranium producer in the world, the report states.  More than a third of the global demand for enriched uranium, which is needed for the operation of nuclear power plants, comes from the Russian company. According to German nuclear power plant operator PreussenElektra, Germany’s three remaining reactors are also mainly running on Russian and Kazakh uranium.

Unlike the embargos on Russian fossil fuels, cutting dependency on Rosatom has been little discussed since president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and there are currently no sanctions on Russian nuclear fuel imports for civil use. Despite calls to keep the existing nuclear power plants running to save on coal and natural gas, Germany’s government remains steadfast in its decision to close down the country’s last nuclear plant at the end of this year.

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