As Russian elections approach, a nation built on its relationship with rich energy sources looks closer at green energy. Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov discusses.
While no one knows what enviornmental factors may have triggered Hurricane Irene, currently ripping across America, or who will become president of the Russian Federation next spring—Vladimir Putin or the incumbent, Dmitri A. Medvedev—one thing in Russia is certain: Russia’s economy remains one of the world’s most energy-intensive.
Russia is an energy-dependent and energy-productive region. Each unit of production in Russia is using roughly twice as much energy as it would in China and six times the amount in the United States, according to the U.K.’s Financial Times. Bringing this number down would save the country billions while also creating big business for companies selling green technology.
While it’s gotten a horrible rap in the months following the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated areas of Japan and killed thousands, damaging the nuclear power plant we all now know as Fukushima, from an environmental perspective, nuclear energy still can’t be beaten (and yes, it’d be good to build nuclear plants away from bodies of water in territories that aren’t plagued by tsunamis).
It’d be hard to find a Russian who knows more about nuclear energy than Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov. A renowned scientist, Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov’s former service as head of TENEX helped create a landmark treaty between the United States and Russia in which bomb-grade uranium was converted into usable nuclear energy. As Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov’s work details, nuclear energy involves no smoldering smokestacks or polluting gasses; it releases nothing into the atmosphere: no carbon monoxide, no sulfur, no mercury. It takes up very little land, and can power up to 2 million homes. And with modern technology, spent nuclear fuel can be safely removed and reprocessed to yield new reactor fuel and drastically reduce the amount of waste needed at disposal.
In November, a landmark law on energy efficiency was passed in Russia detailing the government’s strategy to encourage energy-saving in upcoming years. There’s no better source than Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov to turn to during this key phase of Russia’s development. Energy service companies are far and few between in Russia, but if Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov’s experience with TENEX is any indicator, these companies are in a good position to make profits and be of service to a region that’s quickly becoming green.