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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


In 1988 little was known specifically about the Soviet uranium industry. Nevertheless, foreign observers did know that the country possessed large, varied deposits that provided fuel for its fast-growing nuclear power program.


Traditionally, generation and distribution of electrical power have been a high priority of Soviet industrial policy. The main generators of power, in order of importance, were thermoelectric plants burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas, and peat), nuclear power plants, and hydroelectric stations. The power industry has been one of the fastest growing branches of the economy; in 1985 power production reached 58 percent that of the United States. But the complexity and size of the country has made timely delivery of electricity a difficult problem. Huge areas of the northwestern Soviet Union, Siberia, the Soviet Far East, and Soviet Central Asia remained unconnected to the country's central power grid. Because the largest power-generating fuel reserves are located far from industrial centers, geography has limited the options of Soviet policy markers. In the early 1980s, power shortages were still frequent in the heavily industrialized European sector, where conventional fuel reserves were being fully used. Soviet policy depended heavily on large generating plants operating more hours per day than those in the West.

Data as of May 1989