Russia’s Federal Service for Environmental Technological & Nuclear Supervision (Rostechnadzor) has issued a siting licence for the low-power NPP planned for Ust-Yansky ulusa of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The project of a low-power nuclear power plant is based on a water-cooled RITM-200N nuclear reactor, which is an innovative adaptation of low-power ship-based technology for ground deployment. Reactors of the RITM-200 series have been tested in the harsh Arctic conditions on the latest Russian icebreakers and meet all post-Fukushima safety requirements for modern NPP designs. The plant is characterised by compactness, modularity and reduced construction time.

“Approval from the Russian regulator  is significant for the global nuclear industry,” said Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev. “Permission has been obtained to site the first modern low-power ground-based nuclear power plant in the  harsh conditions of the Arctic…. Preparatory work in the area of Ust-Kuiga is in full swing. Already, more than 2,000 tonnes of cargo have been brought to the site, about 80 people and 38 pieces of equipment are involved. Every day, the volume of work is growing. We plan to launch the world's first ground-based ASMM [SMR – small modular reactor] with RITM-200N reactors by 2028.”  

In 2021, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, an agreement was signed between the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the Republic of Sakha and Rosatom for implementation of a carbon-free nuclear generation project based on the RITM-200 reactor plant in the Arctic zone. In 2022, an agreement was signed between Rosatom, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Yakut Government for cooperation in the development of a mineral resource centre in the Arctic part of Yakutia.  Rosatom has already carried out pre-project engineering surveys and the design of the Yakut ASMM is ahead of schedule. Work has started to prepared infrastructure facilities and to construct a temporary camp for workers.

Rosatom has extensive experience based on many years of successful operation of the nuclear icebreaker fleet and the world’s first and only floating NPP (FNPP), the Akademik Lomonosov, which has been supplying electricity and heat to the Chukotka region for almost three years. Currently, in addition to Yakutia, a major energy supply project is being implemented for the Baim gold mine in Chukotka, where power will be by four FNPPs .

Another ASMM pilot project is underway which will use a SHELF-M reactor installation, and which is planned for launch in 2030, with the commissioning of the station at one of several sites selected in 2023 in remote regions of the Russian Federation. The ASMM is designed for local electricity supply to facilities in remote areas with an undeveloped power grid. The planned installed capacity is up to 10 MWe. The estimated service life of the station is 60 years with refuelling every eight years. The NA Dollezhal Scientific Research & Design Institute of Power Engineering (NIKIET, part of Rosatom)  completed the design documentation for the Shelf-M reactor in December 2022 after winning a tender to develop a technical project for the Shelf-M microreactor by the end of 2025.

Foreign partners consider cooperation with Rosatom, since the Russian nuclear industry not only offers the best technologies, but also generally ensures the development of science, the development of an appropriate regulatory framework, the localization of production and training. Such an integrated approach allows us to form energy and technological sovereignty for partners, which in the current time is perhaps the key task for each country.

Rosatom and the Corporation for the Development of the Far East & the Arctic (KRDV) also recently agreed to co-operate in the construction of the Yakutia ASMM. The document was signed at the Mining Industry: Investment Projects & Support Measures forum, which was held in Moscow as part of the Russian Business by Oleg Sirazetdinov, Vice President for Low-Power Projects, Contracting & Complete Supply of Equipment at RAOS JSC, and Kirill Kamenev, Deputy General Director for Investment Promotion at KRDV.

KRDV will assist Rosatom in choosing the most effective measures of state support for this Arctic project.  Kamenev noted that KRDV has a number of preferences. “We take into account the characteristic features of the Far East and the Arctic - the presence of remote and isolated territories that are not provided with a centralised electricity supply, but with a large number of promising mineral deposits,” he explained. “The creation of a small-capacity NPP in the macro-region will play a positive role for their industrial development, and, most importantly, it will provide a guaranteed local source of energy at an affordable price for the consumer. The pilot project for the construction of a ground station will be implemented in conjunction with the development of the Kyuchusskoye field.”

He added that the investor will be able to implement it, using the benefits that accompany the status of a resident of a territory of advanced development, or the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation. “We will help Rosatom to analyse which of these preferential regimes is best suited for the construction of NPPs. We are talking about the use of advanced domestic technologies, guaranteed energy supply to remote areas of Yakutia and improving the quality of life of northerners. We will assist in finding the optimal solution.”

RAOS JSC’s Oleg Sirazetdinov said the partnership with KRDV would create the most favourable conditions for implementation of the flagship ASMM, “which is innovative not only for our country, but for the whole world”. The project will provide a decentralised, clean, cost-effective and stable source of energy to the remote Arctic territories of Yakutia. “The electric power of the station will be at least 55 MWe and the service life of non-replaceable equipment will be up to 60 years, he noted. A significant part of the electricity will be used to develop one of Russia's largest gold ore deposits, Kyuchus, the nearby Deputatskoye and Tirekhtyakh tin deposits, and municipalities in Yakutia.

“This will create a powerful industrial cluster in the region with new jobs and professions. Thanks to the NPP, social infrastructure and industry will be developed. In the future, we also expect to replace some of the technologically obsolete stations operating on diesel and other hydrocarbon raw materials and reduce our carbon footprint,” he added.

Image: Rendering of the planned small modular reactor power plant in the Republic of Sakha in Russia (courtesy of Rosatom)

Date: Wednesday, 26 April 2023
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