Myanmar Pins Energy Hopes on Russian-made Small Nuclear Reactors

Vogtle nuclear power plants. Image credit: Tim Mousseau ©2020
Vogtle nuclear power plants (Photo: Tim Mousseau)

Myanmar’s military junta has agreed to move forward with a plan to install Russian-made small modular nuclear reactors as the country faces diminishing output from natural gas reserves.
Nikkei reports that Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power and Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company, Rosatom, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in November on the sidelines of the Atomexpo nuclear forum held in Sochi, Russia.

The forum was attended by Myanmar’s electricity minister and its minister of science and technology.

“We expect construction of a small-scale nuclear reactor to start within a few years,” Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson for Myanmar’s military, told reporters in September.

Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, visited Russia in July and September, witnessing the signing of memorandums with Rosatom on both occasions.

The country is suffering from significant power shortages and blackouts due to aged hydroelectric power plants and electrical systems, while power sourced from gas fields is diminishing.

Myanmar’s military leaders see small modular reactors (SMR) as a potential solution to the “energy cliff” problem.

While a typical nuclear reactor has an output of around 1,000 megawatts, the maximum output of an SMR stands at several hundred MW.

Russia is considered a pioneer in this technology, ahead of the US and the UK