The Akademik Lomonosov has been towed out of Murmansk to begin a 4,700 km voyage to its base in Pevek, Photo courtesy Rosatom. Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, has been towed out of Murmansk to begin a 4,700 km voyage to its base in Pevek, an Arctic port town in the country’s far northeastern autonomous district of Chukotka.

Three tugs are towing the plant on its journey to Pevek, where it will generate power for a remote region that is closer to Alaska than it is to Europe.

Russian state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom said today that the plant will be used to replace capacity lost when the Bilibino nuclear station is permanently shut down at the beginning of the next decade.

Bilibino – the smallest and the northernmost operating nuclear power station in the world – has three commercial EGP-6 graphite-moderated, water-cooled reactor units of 11 MW (net) each. They came online in 1975, 1976 and 1977. An identical unit, Bilibino-1, was permanently shut down in January 2019

It is also planned to use the Akademik Lomonosov to power the Chaun-Bilibin mining complex in Chukotka, which includes gold mines, and to supply electricity to offshore oil rigs in Russia's Arctic.

Rosenergoatom said the deployment of the floating plant in Pevek will create conditions for “accelerated socio-economic development” of the Chukotka region.

“In addition, it will become one of the key infrastructure elements in the framework of the programme for the development of the Northern Sea Route, ensuring year-round icebreaking assistance, which will allow for the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects logistically connected with the port of Pevek, where the floating power unit will be based,” the company said in a statement.

The Akademik Lomonosov is scheduled to begin commercial operation at Pevek by the end of 2019.

The vessel will be first in a proposed fleet of floating plants with small pressurised water reactor units that can provide energy, heat and desalinated water to remote and arid areas of Russia.

The 21,000-tonne vessel has two Russian-designed KLT-40S reactor units with an electrical power generating capacity of 35 MW each, sufficient for a city with a population of around 200,000 people.

In June Russian nuclear regulator Rostekhnadzor issued a 10-year licence to Rosenergoatom to operate the Akademik Lomonosov until 2029.

Date: Wednesday, 28 August 2019
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