#AkademikLomonosov – World’s first floating nuclear power station set for launch this week

| August 19, 2019

A floating nuclear power plant will this week be towed via the Northern Sea Route to its final destination in the Arctic, marking a “historic milestone” in Arctic exploration.

On 23 August the Russian company Rosatom will start towing its first floating nuclear power plant from Murmansk to Pevek in Chukotka.

Called Akademik Lomonosov (pictured), the huge vessel is the world’s first floating nuclear power plant and a key part of efforts by Russia and others to expand activities in the region.

However, the multi-billion-euro project has come under attack from Greenpeace. The strongly anti-nuclear environmental group has gone as far as describing it as a “Chernobyl on ice.”

Rosatom, the state nuclear energy company, has hit back at such claims, insisting that the plant “does not pose any threat to the environment”.

The Akademik Lomonosov is destined to make its way 4,000 miles across the Arctic Ocean to supply electricity to Pevek, remote eastern port town.

Responding to the criticism, Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear company, said it was time for Greenpeace to “take a sanity check” and work with them to ensure a “cleaner, greener world”.

It called Greenpeace’s “Chernobyl on ice” comment “nothing but clickbait and scaremongering”, adding there was no credible evidence to back the accusation.

Contrary to such criticism, many argue that Russian engineers can “take pride” in launching the world’s only nuclear floating rig.

The 472-foot barge, adorned in white, red and blue, the colours of the Russian flag, is a 70-megawatt power plant capable of generating enough electricity for around 100,000 homes, the equivalent of a medium-size European town.

Its design combines elements from the transport power units used in nuclear icebreakers and the designs of stationary nuclear power plants. Boasting a state-of-the-art security system, the plant’s life span is up to 40 years, which could be prolonged to 50 years.

Akademic Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world and it is key to plans to develop the region economically. Around 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits.

t took more than a decade to build and carries two KLT-40S nuclear reactors, similar to those used on Russia’s nuclear icebreakers. The reactors use low-enriched uranium and are capable of producing a combined 70MW of electricity.

Rosatom says the platform is “virtually unsinkable” and able to withstand collisions with icebergs and the impact of a seven-metre wave. Onboard technology has already been employed on Russia’s fleet of nuclear icebreakers.

The journey it is set to make along the Northern Sea Route represents a milestone for Russia’s growing use of nuclear power in its plans for Arctic expansion.

Arctic shipping experts have called the plant’s completion a “milestone” for Rosatom and Russia’s shipbuilding industry.”

It will use its twin nuclear reactors to provide heat and energy to homes and energy intensive industries.

A spokesman for Rosatom said the project will provide clean energy to the remote region and allow authorities to retire an ageing nuclear plant and a coal-burning power station.

The concept of a nuclear reactor stationed in the Arctic Sea has drawn criticism from environmentalists but many argue that such criticism is ill founded, pointing to the plan’s main benefits, its mobility and ability to work in remote regions.

Rebecca Pincus, a respected US-based Arctic security expert, said there is reason to believe the Russians will do their best with the nuclear ship, pointing out that the authorities are developing the Arctic because of its “tremendous importance”.

She said the Russians recognize this is happening in a “fishbowl” adding: “The world is watching what’s going on in the Russian Arctic and so I think there is a tremendous amount of scrutiny and pressure to ensure that nothing goes wrong.”

Pincus said  it was possible that one day Arctic Council countries will discuss ways to replicate Russia’s nuclear barge “success story”.

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Category: A Frontpage, Energy, EU, Foratom, Nuclear energy, Russia

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