The Kazakhstani government has decided to go ahead with the construction of a nuclear power plant, with Aktau, on the Caspian coast, the most likely location.
A political decision on construction of independent Kazakhstan's first nuclear power plant has already been made, Valeriy Shevelev, managing director for innovation projects at state nuclear energy company Kazatomprom, told a briefing in Astana on March 4.
The location has not yet been finalised, but power plant will probably be built in Aktau, the site of a Soviet era reactor that was shut down in 1999, Shevelev told journalists. The city in Kazakhstan's western Mangistau region still has the infrastructure from the earlier reactor, as well as experienced personnel.
Aktau is one of two locations being considered for the nuclear power plant; the other being Balkhash in central Kazakhstan. Both industrial towns are expected to see an increase in demand for electricity in future.
In January 2013, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev told government officials that construction should go ahead "as soon as possible". Although Kazakhstan has substantial oil and gas reserves, the country needs to increase electricity production to meet growing demand.
When a final decision is made on the location, an international tender process will be launched to build the power plant.
Shevelev also commented on safety issues, which are a concern in Kazakhstan, as the site of the former Soviet nuclear testing ground at Semipalatinsk. "The latest-generation nuclear power stations have everything it takes to prevent accidents... All factors will be considered. The decision on construction of the plant will be made after wide reaching discussions and expert reports," Shevelev told journalists.