The roadmap for the development of Russian nuclear technologies is laid out for a century ahead. Today, ROSATOM’s portfolio of overseas contracts includes 33 power units in 11 countries, 22 of which are under construction. ROSATOM is to build at least 17 more power units by 2035, including floating NPPs, land-based SMRs and commercial fast neutron reactors. More than 350,000 qualified specialists will be needed to implement these and other projects in Russia and abroad by 2030. Fulfilment of this task requires a transformation of the industry’s system of personnel training. Yuri Seleznev, Rector of Rosatom Technical Academy, spoke about the search for new technologies, processes and approaches in the nuclear education.
– Is Rosatom Technical Academy ready to propose a concept for the development of nuclear education in the strategic perspective of ROSATOM’s interests?
– In 2023, more than 26 thousand specialists were trained at Rosatom Technical Academy. The number of our trainees is growing with each passing year. I think we can support these plans.
Rosatom Technical Academy has developed an intensive short-term development programme to provide training support for ROSATOM’s strategic projects. The investment project will make it possible to ensure proactive personnel training in the future-oriented areas of ROSATOM’s activities. The basis for this is the experience accumulated by Rosatom Technical Academy in the field of training in the safety of nuclear facilities, training of personnel of foreign NPPs, educational support of international projects and new high-tech businesses of ROSATOM.
Today, the Academy carries out complete training in the VVER technology. The development of the personnel training system for the Pilot Demonstration Energy Complex based on the BREST-300 reactor in Seversk has become a new development stage for us. Rosatom Technical Academy will train personnel not only for big NPPs, but also for innovative reactors.
The establishment of an integrated industry-wide centre for training of small nuclear power personnel for upgraded floating NPPs of the Northern Sea Route and land-based small power plants planned to be built in Yakutia, Norilsk and Myanmar could become a large-scale project of the current decade. This is a project of ROSATOM’s external expansion, and it should certainly meet the requirements of an international centre. In addition, Atomenergomash is developing a project of an optimised floating NPP that can operate in hot countries. The American nuclear power plant project with first small modular reactors, which the United States planned to promote worldwide, was shut down. The costs were much higher than planned. Things, which were only in the calculations in the American project, have been justified and already work in our country.
– What tasks, which the Academy’s specialists used to solve with heroic efforts, do they solve today in the course of their regular work?
– The investment project, implemented in 2018–2022, made it possible to create modern and efficient facilities to provide training activities in the nuclear industry and helped build a system for training of the personnel of NPPs that ROSATOM constructs abroad. The repairs have been carried out, the equipment purchased, the simulators put into operation, the training and methodological materials developed and the staff trained. Now, the system is working steadily: the Academy trains specialists of the plants under construction in Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Hungary.
At the same time, we are exploring the opportunities and trying to build a system of proactive personnel training for the new nuclear power industry. The Moscow Branch has been completely transformed towards this goal. What is involved in building a new project? We need to follow the familiar path: people, facilities, training materials, simulators – everything has to be started from scratch. This is where heroic efforts never end. Nuclear power itself and the operation of a nuclear power plant is a quiet and confident job. But it originates in heroic efforts.
Last December, Rosatom Technical Academy concluded a framework agreement with NovaWind JSC. Today, the regular interaction with the Wind Power Division is established and the training is provided. The cooperation with the Russian Association of Wind Power Industry allows us to assess the industry’s training needs and expand the range of training courses. The Academy presented its training services for the new markets at this year’s International Wind Energy Forum dedicated to the renewable energy and electric transport.
The system of personnel training for a new promising area of industrial waste treatment and utilisation is also being developed from scratch. We signed a corresponding agreement with the Federal Environmental Operator in January. The Novovoronezh Branch developed an investment project for the establishment of a welder training centre. We are talking about highly qualified specialists who will be certified by Rostekhnadzor in order to be allowed to work at the facility. Next year, we plan to start the construction of the Multi-purpose Centre for Physical Protection. The project is ready and has passed expert appraisal.
– The Academy’s international activities began in 2010 (it was Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training at that time) along with the IAEA’s commitment to assist newcomer countries. Today, the training of nuclear infrastructure personnel is once again in high demand. Why is that so?
– African countries are now showing great interest in the development of peaceful nuclear technologies. This was confirmed once again at the Second Summit and Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, which was held in Saint Petersburg this summer. On the sidelines of the Forum, ROSATOM and our partners from Africa signed five agreements aimed at recognition and implementation of nuclear technologies and training of personnel. As part of the event, Rosatom Technical Academy together with the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia organised a youth forum “Nuclear Education – Potential for Successful Regional Development”, which brought together more than 350 young specialists from Russia and African countries.
The nuclear energy field is new for African states, and in order to build it, nuclear infrastructure needs to be developed first and foremost. This involves cooperation in the area of training and human capacity building. Rosatom Technical Academy has extensive experience in training activities: since 2010, about 3,300 specialists from 88 new countries have been trained at joint Russian and IAEA courses in various areas of nuclear energy use. Today, the Academy has cooperation agreements with four IAEA Departments in the fields of nuclear energy, nuclear sciences and applications, nuclear security and safeguards.
Taking into account the accumulated experience, we plan to develop the idea of creating the Centre for Nuclear Infrastructure Personnel Training. The nuclear power for new countries is not just electricity; it is also the stability, sustainable development and reinforcement of sovereignty.
This is why the countries that can’t afford a big plant try to build a small one. The managers there, even at the middle level, have two or three European educational qualifications. They realise the impact of the peaceful atom and are eager to learn. By helping these countries to develop their own university programmes in the nuclear education and organising the courses on building nuclear infrastructure, we are laying the foundation for relations between Russia and African countries in the area of nuclear energy development on the neighbouring continent.