he beginning of a new nuclear era in Russia was laid on December 1, 2007. Then Vladimir Putin signed Law No. 317-FZ “On the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom”, according to which the Federal Atomic Energy Agency was abolished, and its powers and assets were transferred to the State Corporation Rosatom. Over these 15 years, the number of new businesses that, in orderly logic, revolve like electrons around the scientific core, has reached 80.
Transportation along the Northern Sea Route and the creation of the Arctic port infrastructure, nuclear medicine, digitalization, additive technologies, wind energy, infrastructure solutions, logistics, new materials – such different and in some places very far from the nuclear topic projects have one thing in common. These new technologies, new professions and new businesses will determine the future not only of the state corporation, but of Russia and the whole world.
Over the 15 years of its existence, Rosatom has evolved from a group of disparate enterprises into a powerful vertically integrated corporation with a unified management system, common values, and a strong corporate culture. A single structure consolidated all the assets necessary for the formation of a full cycle of nuclear competencies: from uranium mining to construction and support for the operation of nuclear power plants. The state corporation is one of the three world leaders in the nuclear fuel cycle services market, ranking second in uranium mining, first in its enrichment, and third in fuel fabrication.
“The Rosatom circuit now contains not only the best that was created during the time of Minsredmash. A lot of new things have also appeared: competencies in mechanical engineering, logistics, “digital”, and other relevant areas. All this allowed us to first become the undisputed world leader in nuclear technologies, and now successfully enter new sectors of the economy. And to fully use our talents, knowledge and experience in solving the most important task of today – strengthening the country’s technological sovereignty,” says Alexei Likhachev, Director General of Rosatom.
Currently, Rosatom includes eight divisions: the Nuclear Weapons Complex, mining, engineering, fuel, electric power, machine building, REIN divisions (foreign project management), Sales and Trading. The number of nuclear “daughters” has reached 350. Enterprises operate in 27 cities of the country, in a number of regions acting as city-forming. As an employer, Rosatom provides employment for about 300,000 people.
Global nuclear player
The main task is the same – the development of energy. Today, the share of nuclear generation in the country is about 20%. For comparison, in 2005 the figure was 15.8%. In the next ten years, the volume of electricity generated at the nuclear power plants of the Rosenergoatom concern increased by more than 50%: from 147.6 billion kWh to 222.4 billion kWh.
It is especially noteworthy that in 2020 a record was set: for the first time, the output of Russian nuclear power plants exceeded the maximum indicators of all plants in the Soviet Union.
During the short period of existence of Rosatom, 11 new nuclear power units were built in Russia and eight – abroad. Currently, the domestic corporation is building nuclear power plants in eight countries: in Bangladesh, Belarus, Hungary, Egypt, India, Iran, China, Turkey, and in total, the portfolio of orders includes agreements on the construction of 34 power units in different parts of the world. This makes Rosatom the world leader in terms of the number of installations and allows it to control 70% of the global NPP construction market.
In Russia, Rosatom is currently building two power units at the Kursk NPP-2, as well as a unique fourth-generation plant with a fast natural safety reactor BREST-OD-300 in Seversk. In addition, the construction of floating power units based on the RITM-200 reactor has begun, and it is planned to build a low-power ground-based nuclear power plant in Yakutia.
The implementation of such projects will allow solving the problems of energy saving and improving the quality of life of people in remote settlements. In particular, in 2020, the world’s first floating nuclear thermal power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov FNPP, was put into commercial operation in Chukotka.
Different faces of an atom
The accumulated expertise, competent personnel and experience in implementing projects have led to the fact that since 2017, Rosatom has been systematically working to domesticate innovative technologies. The company develops new areas of activity, creates new products that are now familiar to almost every resident of the country and are used by many domestic and foreign companies.
Thus, a complete import-independent chain of production of carbon composite products has been created on the territory of Russia – from raw materials to finished products. The companies included in the structure of the state corporation are increasing their competencies in the construction of wind farms and the production of equipment for them. In the south of the country, in Adygeya, the Stavropol Territory and the Rostov Region, six wind farms have been built and launched by Rosatom, and two more are under construction.
In the north, the nuclear icebreaker fleet is being upgraded: two new ships, the Arktika and Sibir, have already been commissioned, and the construction of three more is underway. Thanks to the efforts of the state corporation, the Northern Sea Route is turning into a full-fledged transport corridor – according to the results of 2021, a record volume of cargo transportation was recorded here – 34.9 million tons.
Nuclear medicine equipment used to diagnose and treat oncological diseases is also Rosatom. Serial production of complexes for radiation therapy has been started at its enterprises.
In the field of solving national environmental problems, the state corporation implemented the federal state information system for the treatment of waste of the first and second class – FSIS OPWC. In the interests of the oil and gas industry, the first stand in Europe for testing LNG equipment was created in St. Petersburg.
In addition, Rosatom has been working on software import substitution for several years. The state corporation has developed over 70 of its own digital products, of which more than 20 are included in the register of domestic software.
The market demand for new solutions in areas where the state-owned company does not have monopoly status is evidenced by financial indicators. Revenue from new products has grown 1.9 times since 2017: from 171 billion rubles to 335 billion rubles in 2021.
The consolidated revenue of Rosatom (excluding the nuclear weapons complex) has increased 4.5 times over 15 years: from 364 billion rubles in 2007 to 1.7 trillion rubles, which are expected at the end of 2022. That is, with the complication of the structure of the state corporation, it was possible to maintain efficiency.
“Black wings” for Russian aviation
What unites the hockey sticks used at the Roscongress Cup gala match at SPIEF and the MS-21 liner? They are made from composite materials made in Russia. Yumateks, a member of the Rosatom State Corporation, has localized the entire production chain and supplies the basis for sports equipment, the production of yachts, wings and aircraft tails.
But two years ago, a new domestic airliner almost lost its future: due to US sanctions against Aerocomposite, there was nothing to produce a “black wing” from, and the rejection of carbon fiber increased the cost of the aircraft by more than 430 billion rubles.
However, Umatex specialists were able to produce material of even better quality, which made it possible to reduce the cost of operating the entire aircraft by 10–15%, primarily due to wing lengthening and reduced fuel consumption.
Strength and lightness are the main qualities of the composite “fabric”. For example, fiberglass is not inferior to steel reinforcement in strength, but is many times lighter than metal and has low electrical conductivity. CFRP, on the other hand, is an excellent conductor of current, while carbon-graphite materials can withstand very high temperatures.
The key consumers of composites are transport engineering, construction, mining, the aerospace industry, as well as enterprises of the military-industrial complex.
Without these materials, the development of alternative energy is impossible, since it is from them that wind blades, hydrogen cylinders and solar panels are made. The advantages of composites are their strength, lightness and durability. The life cycle of products from them is extended to 50 years or more.
But what if we make the material practically eternal? The answer to this technological challenge is being sought by employees of R&D, a center in the field of polymeric materials and composites, created by the Russian Chemical Technical University named after. D. I. Mendeleev together with Yumateks. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, scientists are developing a material that can be easily repaired and recycled many times, that is, to increase the economic and reduce the environmental cost of new materials.
As President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Viktor Evtukhov noted at the June forum “Composites Without Borders”, the volume of the global composites market is $80 billion. China (32%) and the USA (26%) occupy the leading positions in it. Russia accounts for only 1%. This is despite the fact that in the 1980s the USSR ranked third in the world in the use of composites. Since the 2010s, the country has gradually regained its status as a prominent player in the innovative materials market. The key role in this is given to Rosatom, since the enterprises of the nuclear industry stood at the origins of the development of this area earlier and today they have the opportunity to organize an end-to-end process: from scientific research to real use in production.
Cooperation with technical universities of the country helps not only to improve the technology of production and use of composites, but also to train personnel for a new industry. So, on the basis of the Ulyanovsk State Technical University “Umatex” with the support of the Regional Development Corporation, an educational center “Technologies of Composites” was opened. The need of the Ulyanovsk region alone for specialists with competence in the design and manufacture of products from polymer composite materials is about one and a half thousand people.
In 2018, at the initiative of Umatex, an interregional cluster “Composites Without Borders” was created. It unites companies and educational organizations of Tatarstan, Moscow, Saratov, Tula and Ulyanovsk regions and serves industrial and scientific cooperation in the Russian market.
The vector for the development of alternative energy in Russia was set in 2009, when a government decree was issued that fixed the first targets. For wind, the bar was set at 1250 MW by 2015, but only 15.4 MW were achieved. It was decided to speed up wind energy through state support measures and attracting major players. By 2020, there were three main players in the renewable energy market: the Wind Energy Development Fund, created on a parity basis by PJSC Fortum and GC Rosnano (ceased to exist in January 2022, a portfolio of projects for 1.256 GW was included in the joint venture of Fortum and Gazprombank ), PJSC Enel Russia (renamed PJSC EL5-Energo after the Enel Group sold its stake to LUKOIL and the Gazprombank-Freesia fund) and JSC NovaWind (SC Rosatom).
The “windy” daughter appeared at Rosatom in September 2017 and has launched 720 MW of alternative energy capacities to date. In total, by 2027, the state corporation intends to launch wind farms with a total capacity of about 1.7 GW.
the task is to recreate it, since after the exit of Western companies from the market, many projects have to be restarted from scratch. Rosatom took on the task of technology transfer and organized the production of key critical components of the wind turbine at its facilities.
The plant of NovaWind JSC for the production of components and assemblies of wind turbines is located in Volgodonsk, Rostov Region, on the basis of Atommash, the power engineering center of Rosatom. In 2020, the production of wind turbine components and components here reached its design capacity. The current capacity of plants for the production of equipment for renewable energy is about 800 MW per year, while taking into account new investments in production, the first plants with an annual production of at least 1 GW will appear by 2024.
If at the first facility – the Adygei WPP – NovaWind was able to show the degree of localization of the wind farm equipment at 55%, then the wind farms commissioned in 2021 are already fully equipped with equipment manufactured in Russia. Examples of this are Kochubeevskaya WPP (210 MW), Karmalinovskaya WPP (60 MW), Bondarevskaya WPP (120 MW) and Medvezhenskaya WPP (60 MW). Kuzminskaya (160 MW) is under construction. In addition, the company produces software for dispatching power consumption modes and power management.
Such expertise allows Rosatom to act as a developer of wind energy projects abroad. The state corporation is already implementing projects in Vietnam. In general, over the past decade, the total capacity of renewable energy facilities has increased by 17 times in the world. At the same time, while European players are betting on an increase in the share of alternative energy in the energy balance, China and the United States are striving to strengthen their position as manufacturers of components and equipment. Russia follows the same path.
According to the RVCA report published in 2022, the total installed capacity of wind power plants in Russia is 2043.44 MW, the number of wind power plants is 1162 units.
According to the statistics of SO UES JSC and NP Market Council, the installed capacity of wind farms has almost doubled compared to 2020, and the generation of wind farms has increased 1.3 times, while in the wholesale market – 2.4 times.
The RAWI notes that in the context of the economic crisis and rising inflation, wind farms gain a competitive advantage, as they can fix the price of energy for 15 or more years, setting the so-called stop price. Even now, wind farms can sell their “green” energy at a highly competitive price of 3.5 rubles per kWh.
At the end of 2021, wind energy accounted for only 0.32% of all electricity generation in the country.
Statistics on the spread of cancer worldwide continues to set sad anti-records – according to WHO, in 2020, every sixth person who died had just such a diagnosis.
The greatest prospects in the diagnosis and treatment of oncological diseases (as well as cardiological and neurological) have instruments from the arsenal of radionuclide medicine. In this direction, Russia has a leading position in the world, which allows us to think not just about import substitution, but about working ahead of the curve. Having reactors for the production of rare isotopes, such as actinium and lutetium, which are most interesting from the point of view of their use in therapy, Rosatom initiates the creation of new highly effective drugs for the targeted fight against tumors, including inoperable ones.
As Head of the Ministry of Health Mikhail Murashko said in October during a visit to the Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automation of the state corporation Rosatom, only 2-3 countries in the world are developing such drugs. Their introduction into medical practice will help increase the availability of medical services for Russians and attract medical tourists.
To do this, in the homeland of the nuclear industry – in Obninsk, Kaluga region, where the world’s first nuclear power plant was opened – the state corporation is building a plant for the production of radiopharmaceuticals. It is planned to launch 21 technological lines by 2025, which will make the production the largest in Europe.
Today, the share of Rosatom in the world production of radioisotopes is 25–40%, depending on the type of chemical elements. The strategic goal of the state corporation is to take third place in the world in terms of revenue from the export of radioisotopes.
In addition, Rosatom plans to master 12% of the global market for all nuclear medicine by 2030, including in the production of innovative equipment. Profile “daughter” of Rosatom “Rusatom Healthcare” has announced the serial production of full-featured analogues of popular Western technology in 2023-2024. The first in the series will be a radiation therapy complex based on the Onyx linear particle accelerator — it will be used to treat about 90% of forms of cancer due to targeted irradiation of a tumor in a patient.
The head of Rosatom, Alexei Likhachev, defined a seven-year roadmap for the development of nuclear medicine in the form of a chain: isotopes – radiopharmaceuticals – radio installations – medical institutions.
Ten years ago, Rosatom, the Ministry of Health of Russia and the Federal Medical and Biological Agency launched the creation of national centers for nuclear medicine on the basis of existing nuclear facilities.
Despite the fact that about a dozen enterprises in Russia produce raw materials for radiopharmaceuticals, there is still an acute shortage of them in the country. Thus, drugs for in vitro diagnostics are not produced at all; out of 200 drugs produced in the world, only 20 items are produced.
At the end of 2021, Rosstat recorded a lack of radiation equipment. According to the standards of Roszdrav in the country, it is necessary to have one linear accelerator per 300,000 people, that is, at least 485 devices of this purpose throughout the country. However, only 262 devices were in operation, while a significant part of the existing equipment fleet was outdated – its service life exceeded 10 years.
The heart of electric vehicles
Bloomberg NEF analysts believe that in 13 years, half of the cars sold in the world will be equipped not with internal combustion engines or diesel engines, but with electric motors. All world auto giants are moving in this direction. General Motors has announced that it will stop selling petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035. Audi intends to stop production of such cars even earlier – by 2033. All leading brands come up with similar initiatives. Even the conservative Rolls Royce released its first electric train in 2022.
In general, over the past 10 years, the number of brands that have entered the electric race has increased 15 times. Among them are the young domestic brand Evolute and, of course, the Chinese with their Skywell.
In Russia, the demand for electric transport, although still small, is growing at a high pace. At the end of September 2022, AUTOSTAT noted an increase in the number of sales of electric cars by almost 30%. In general, over the year, the fleet of electric cars has tripled. If in September 2021 the share of electric vehicles in the total number of cars was 0.14%, then a year later this figure reached the level of 0.48%.
As one of the Green Revolution providers, Rosatom takes an active part in solving the key issue of electric and hybrid transport — the problem of batteries. How can we ensure that the environmental and social costs of building energy storage do not invalidate the very idea of low-carbon cars? According to McKinsey analysts, by 2030 the demand for batteries for cars will grow by about 30%, approaching 4,500 GWh per year worldwide.
Russia does not have its own production of lithium-ion energy storage systems that would satisfy the needs of the young industry. Rosatom decided to adapt the site of the frozen Baltic NPP, 10 km from the border with Lithuania, for the production of cells and batteries. The launch of the first line of the gigafactory is expected in the fall of 2025, but the plans are to introduce the second and third lines. As a result, the total capacity of the enterprise can reach 14 GWh per year.
The company will employ 900 employees. The batteries produced here will be installed in electric buses, electric vehicles and special equipment. There is already a preliminary agreement on equipping electric vehicles with these units, which will be assembled in the Kaliningrad region at the Avtotor plant.
The gigafactory also intends to create stationary energy storage systems used in the power grid complex and industrial enterprises to ensure uninterrupted power supply and cover load peaks.
The future plans of the Renera company (part of the Rosatom fuel company TVEL) include the development of an energy storage device with an ultra-fast charge. It is based on cells with NMC 811 cathode material, which is characterized by high energy consumption at low cost. This development improves battery reliability, extends battery life and reduces vehicle downtime, which is especially important for commercial stories.
The autumn of 2021 turned out to be tense for the Far Eastern regions: due to bureaucratic delays, the northern delivery was on the verge of failure, and remote cities were almost left without food and fuel. In 2022, by decision of the government, Rosatom became the sole operator of the Northern Sea Route. This choice was supported by the fact that the state corporation had the status of the world’s only owner of a nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet.
In the summer of 2022, the Federal State Budgetary Institution “Main Directorate of the Northern Sea Route” appeared in the structure of Rosatom, which issues permits for passage through the Arctic seas and escorts ships. In addition, Rosatom is responsible for the creation of an international transport corridor on the Asia-Europe route, including the construction of a commercial fleet and two transport and logistics hubs.
The emergence of an alternative logistics route is a historic event for the whole world, said Vladimir Panov, special representative of the State Corporation Rosatom for the development of the Arctic, deputy chairman of the State Commission for the Development of the Arctic.
According to him, everything has long been known about open water navigation: development is ensured by evolution in shipbuilding and optimization of logistics costs. In ice conditions, navigation itself became possible only in the last five years, with the advent of a new class of ships.
The ships on their own, without an icebreaker, are able to pass through ice up to 1.4 m thick in winter and spring navigation.
According to Vyacheslav Ruksha, director of the Northern Sea Route Directorate of Rosatom State Corporation, by 2030 it will be possible to deliver as much cargo by sea as by rail: the throughput capacity of the Arctic sea corridor will reach 200 million tons, which is close to the Trans-Siberian Railway. In addition, about 10-15% of the cargo flow from the Suez Canal can be sent through the North.
The state corporation calculated that the sustainable operation of the Northern Sea Route is possible with the expansion of the fleet. The required minimum is six icebreakers, 16 rescue vessels and a nuclear service vessel, and 32 ice-class trucks. The construction of Arctic-class cargo ships is also entrusted to Rosatom.
The first cabotage from St. Petersburg to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the summer of 2022 took 22 days. By the way, biologists work on these flights, who track the populations of seabirds and polar bears. Thus, the start of regular container traffic helped establish the first full-fledged monitoring of the ecosystem from the Barents Sea to Chukotka in many years.
According to the head of Rosatom Alexei Likhachev, the goal of the state corporation is to become not just a single infrastructure operator of the NSR. The implementation of such a large-scale project together with governors, shipbuilders and power engineers should become an impetus for the entire development of the Arctic. To ensure the maximum speed of development of the NSR, the Baltic Shipyard is building new icebreakers (now, with the assistance of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, it is solving the issues of supplying steam turbine units) and extending the life of existing icebreaking equipment: due to high-quality service, Taimyr, Vaigach, Yamal were not stopped in 2014 -2015, as planned, and will be used until 2027.
They are assisted, if necessary, by the courts of Rosmorport. However, when the most important Arctic investment projects enter their final phase, this is not enough.
“When Rosneft starts selling its 30 million tons of oil annually, Severnaya Zvezda – 5-7 million tons of coal and Novatek – under 40 million tons of LNG, it is very important that we, as an infrastructure operator, didn’t let anyone down,” says Ruksha.
Deputy Prime Minister and presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev is confident that key Arctic investors will ensure that the NSR is loaded with 80 million tons as early as 2024.
Quantum internet and digital sovereignty
The development of nuclear technologies has largely become a driver of digitalization. The first supercomputers were introduced to simulate complex nuclear processes.
At one of the enterprises of the state corporation – RFNC-VNIIEF in Sarov – serial production of compact computers was launched, including machines with the prefix “super”. The technique was used not only by the nuclear scientists themselves, but also, for example, by the engineers of the OKB im. P. O. Sukhoi.
Today RFNC-VNIIEF is one of the R&D centers for the development of an ion supercomputer. Rosatom’s ambitious plans for the development of supertechnologies are to create a universal quantum computer by 2024 and launch a quantum Internet in 2030. Last year, more than 6 billion rubles were already allocated for these purposes, and the total amount of investments until 2024 will be more than 23 billion rubles from budgetary and non-budgetary sources.
In October 2022, in Sarov, near the nuclear center – RFNC-VNIIEF, the National Center for Physics and Mathematics was established, headed by the ex-head of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeev. The intellectual backbone of the new center is formed by specialists from Rosatom and the Kurchatov Institute.
The quantum future is largely based on the achievements of Soviet science. “All Nobel Prizes in physics by Soviet and Russian scientists are associated with achievements in the field of quantum physics,” the roadmap for the development of quantum technologies says.
The first quantum leap, made in the 20th century, gave us lasers, cellular communications and the Internet. The second is expected to be capable of high-speed modeling of complex processes. This will reduce large-scale calculations from several years to minutes, which will be useful, among other things, in the search for new drugs. Rosatom is responsible for the “iron” quantum direction in Russia. Also, quanta will help to raise the level of protection of communications (technologies in the area of responsibility of Russian Railways) and improve the accuracy of measurements dozens of times (quantum sensors are created by Rostec).
Another “daughter” of the state corporation – Rosenergoatom – is building the Arktika data center near Murmansk, it will be located within the perimeter of the Kola NPP. The site fits well into the national program for building a network of disaster-proof data processing centers: constant supply of electricity at low tariffs, no need for expensive cooling systems turns the Arctic into a data outpost. Here, among other things, IT-systems for the management of Arctic shipping and weather forecasting will be placed.
Managing multiple assets, projects, and people requires effective automation tools. Rosatom created systems for itself and now offers them to other companies, which came in handy when foreign IT players began to rush to leave Russia.
In 2019, it is no coincidence that the state corporation became the center of competencies of the Digital Technologies federal project. Here, scientific research is conducted in many areas: the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, neurotechnologies and artificial intelligence, wireless communication technologies, robotics and production automation.
Rosatom creates software products for managing its own nuclear industry and is actively replacing imported software used to design nuclear power plants and manage their life cycle. Despite the narrow specialization of developers, these and their other solutions are of interest to a wide range of corporate users: 15 solutions were introduced to the market in 2018–2021 and six more in 2022.
By 2025, only domestic software can be used at critical infrastructure facilities, but so far there are critically few such solutions.
According to the data cited during the CIPR by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, the industrial sector is in 3rd place in the country in terms of costs for the implementation and use of digital technologies after IT and the financial sectors. However, so far, as the head of government emphasized, only 23% of IT solutions used in industry are domestic.
Speaking at the annual Digital Rosatom conference in Nizhny Novgorod, Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev emphasized that initially the state corporation’s digital strategy had three components: the development of products in demand on the market, the digitalization of its own production facilities, and, finally, participation in the implementation of the state digital strategy.
“The demands of the time have added two more to these areas – promising technologies, including those related to calculations based on new physical principles and neuromorphic artificial intelligence systems. And a recent decision is the task set by the President of Russia on import substitution in the critical information infrastructure,” said Alexei Likhachev.