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World’s first floating nuclear power plant is set for fuel loading in Russia

Akademik Lomonosov, world’s first nuclear floating power unit arrived in the Russian city Murmansk from Saint Petersburg on May 19, 2018 for loading of fuel.

Once loaded with fuel the power plant will be towed to the town of Russia’s far east city of Pevek in Chukotka region for connection to the grid in 2019, said a press release.

It will become the first ever operational floating nuclear power plant and the northern most nuclear installation in the world.

The plant will replace a coal-fired power plant and an aging nuclear power plant Bilibino supplying power to over 50,000 people. The new plant will help reduce carbon footprint in the Arctic caused by tens of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. 

A welcome ceremony took place at the pier of Atom lot, a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation--Rosatom.

The ceremony was attended by Director General of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev, Chukotka Region Governor Roman Kopin, Murmansk Region Deputy Governor Eugene Nikora, Deputy Director General of Rosatom Aleхander Lokshin, Rosenergoatom Director General Andrey Petrov and Atomflot Director General Vyacheslav Ruksha.

Rosatom Director General in his speech said, “Akademic Lomonosov is an unparalleled piece of engineering by Russian scientists. It is a first-of-a-kind, reference project for mobile medium capacity range nuclear power units, a product we expect to be in growing demand in the coming years. For instance, we see great interest from all island nations where it is difficult, for various reasons, to set up a developed centralised power transmission infrastructure.”

The floating nuclear power plant project has been welcomed by many environmentalists and green groups as the only feasible way to reduce the Arctic’s dependency on coal causing millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions and toxic pollution destroying the region’s fragile ecosystems. 

Ben Heard, the Executive Director of Bright New World Organisation in his comment said, “Remote communities world-wide need affordable, reliable non-carbon energy and this (floating nuclear power unit) is a way of getting it to them.” 

The nuclear Floating Power Unit (FPU) Akademik Lomonosov is equipped with two KLT-40C reactor, each with a capacity of 35 MW, similar to those used on icebreakers. The vessel is 144 metres long and 30 metres wide and has a displacement of 21,000 tonnes.

 

The lifecycle of the nuclear FPU is 40 years with the possibility of being extended to up to 50 years. After decommissioning, the FPU will be towed to a special deconstruction and recycling facility. No spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste is planned to be left in the Arctic–spent fuel will be taken to the special storage facilities in the mainland Russia.

These small nuclear reactors like Akademik Lomonosov can operate non-stop without the need for refueling for three to five years, thereby considerably reducing the cost of electricity generation.

The reactors have the potential to work particularly well in regions with extended coastlines, power supply shortages, and limited access to electrical grids. The plant can be delivered to any point along a coast and connected to existing electrical grids.

Rosatom is already working on second generation FPUs, or Optimized Floating Power Units (OFPUs), which will be equipped with two RITM-200M reactors each with a capacity of 50 MW. OFPUs will be smaller than their predecessors.

 

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