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    More nuclear power needed to avoid energy crisis - nuclear agency

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    MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - More nuclear power plants need to be built to avoid the threat of an energy crisis in Russia, the country's top nuclear power official said Wednesday. Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, said: "A key objective has emerged: to increase the share of nuclear power in overall energy production."

    Russia's power infrastructure has been under huge strain recently, particular in the major cities, due to record low temperatures. The country's electricity monopoly Unified Energy System has been forced to restrict power supplies domestically and internationally, while Russian energy giant Gazprom has drawn heavily on its underground reserves to meet demand for natural gas.

    In Moscow on Monday, UES said the peak load on the Moscow power system had hit 15,900MW as the second deep freeze engulfed the Russian capital.

    Kiriyenko said the threat of an unprecedented power crisis in the country was looming, adding that Russian electricity consumption is increasing 50% faster than the country's energy strategy assumes.

    Nuclear power currently accounts for 16% of Russia's electricity production.

    "The aim is to bring energy production by nuclear power stations up to 25% of the total by 2030," the official said.

    Kiriyenko, a former prime minister of Russia, had previously said Russia intended to restore the nuclear power infrastructure that existed during the Soviet period, and was initiating talks with Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

    "All nuclear power facilities on the territory of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are part of the single complex of the former Soviet Ministry of Medium Machine Building, which we need to restore," he said.

    Most of the technological complex of the former Soviet Ministry of Medium Machine Building fell to Russian hands after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, but some of its elements are located in other Commonwealth of Independent States countries. Uranium is mined in Kazakhstan, while Ukraine produces turbines.

    The nuclear official said the Soviet-era nuclear infrastructure needed to be restored both for domestic aims, and to meet global demand.

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