* Atomic energy chief says competition to grow tougher
* Calls for tougher IAEA policing of industry
* Russia now top builder of nuclear plants globally
MOSCOW, April 19 Russia's atomic energy chief
said on Tuesday that new safety demands would make its plants
costlier and boost competition because of the impact of Japan's
nuclear crisis on the industry.
"Overall, plants will become more expensive and the
competition will increase," Rosatom director Sergei Kiriyenko
was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying on the sidelines
of a nuclear forum.
Fears over safety will likely reduce the number of tenders
for new plants and toughen bidding for new projects, with an
additional premium on safety.
But unlike Germany, which has said it will wean itself off
nuclear energy, Russia has said it has no intention of curbing
its drive for more nuclear power at home and for export.
Kiriyenko said the impact from the Fukushima plant disaster
would not only increase safety concerns but also quicken demand
for new reactors to replace the industry's ageing plants.
"There will be a need to build new plants more quickly to
more swiftly replace previous-generation plants," he said.
He added that Russia may speed the retirement of its older
generation plants in the wake of Japan's nuclear accident.
Safety cost increases could make it harder for Rosatom,
which says it is now building more nuclear plants globally than
anyone, to underbid competitors such as France's Areva
CEPFi.PA and Japan's Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse (6502.T).
The Russian state nuclear corporation is building 14 of the
62 reactors under construction worldwide, including nine at
But some of the funds earmarked toward building new reactors
will now be funnelled into boosting security at Russian plants,
the deputy head of Russian plant operator Rosenergoatom said.
"This work will take two to three years, maybe more, and
will most likely redirect some part of the investment, which we
until now planned exclusively for the construction of new power
plants," Alexander Polushkin was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Kiriyenko called for greater powers for the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to regulate industry safety and
avoid nuclear catastrophes even as ex-Soviet nations marks 25
years since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine this month.
"The IAEA currently occupies an advisory role. I think its
powers should be increased," Kiriyenko said, adding that tougher
laws will be on the agenda for a June IAEA meeting.
President Dmitry Medvedev will propose initiatives on
global nuclear security and disaster response that Russia hopes
will win support at a Group of Eight nations summit next month,
his aide Arkady Dvorkovich told Russian news agencies.
(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel)