On June 27th, Russia has approved operation of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant – the Akademik Lomonosov.
Rosenergoatom (Rosatom’s electric power subdivision) was allowed to operate the unique powership for 10 years, through to 2029, the statement by the company announced.
When speaking about this milestone, Andrey Petrov, the CEO of the Rosenergoatom Joint-Stock Company, said:
“Obtaining the license for the floating power block operation is a highlight of hard work carried out for many years to establish a unique nuclear power usage facility. This event gives us an opportunity to start transporting the powership to the Pevek port in late August, where it will then undergo trials and operational launch as a part of the floating nuclear heat and power plant at the end of 2019.”
The floating power block is supposed to be transferred from the Baltic Shipyard to Rosenergoatom by the end of June.
By the end of 2019, the activities related to the construction of the onshore and hydraulic facilities and the infrastructure designed to transmit the electric power into the ‘Chukotenergo’ power networks and the heat into the city’s heat networks are to be completed.
The floating nuclear heat and power plant is expected to deliver its first kilowatt-hours into the grid in December 2019. Further on, the plant is supposed to replace the withdrawn generating capacities of the Chaun-Bilibino load center – the Chaun CHPP in the city of Pevek and the Bilibino NPP in the city of Bilibino.
The lifespan of the FPU is projected to total 40 years, but it can also be prolonged up to 50 years, according to Rosatom.
Naturally, the Nordics had some hysteria surrounding it, but Finland actually showed some common sense and dispelled worries back in 2017.
As per Rosenergoatom:
“The floating nuclear power unit (FPU) (FPU) “Akademik Lomonosov” of project 20870 is the main project of the series of mobile transportable power units of low power. It is designed to work as a part of the Floating Nuclear Thermal Power Plant (FNPP) and is of a new class of power sources on the basis of Russian technologies of nuclear shipbuilding.
The nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that can generate up to 70 MW of electric energy and 50 Gcal/hr of heat energy during its normal operation. This is enough to keep the activity of the town populated with 100,000 people. The FPU is the unique and the world’s first project of the mobile transportable power unit of low power. It is designed for the operation at the areas of the Extreme North and the Russian Far East. Its main task is to provide the remote industrial plants, port cities, as well as the offshore gas and oil platforms with electric energy. The FNPP is designed with the great margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors invincible for tsunamis and other natural disasters. In addition, the nuclear processes at the floating power unit meet all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and do not pose any threat to the environment.”
Much to the US’s displeasure, China and Russia have been making significant progress with their icebreaker fleets.
On May 30th, Rusatom launched its new nuclear icebreaker – the Ural.
The Ural is a Project 22220 icebreaker, and is the third one of its class the first two being the Arktika and the Sibir.
At 568 feet long and 111 feet wide, the ships come equipped with two nuclear reactors, generating a combined 350MW of energy which is enough power for a P2X40 to break through ice nearly 10 feet thick.
Two massive ballast tanks can be adjusted to alter the draft of the vessel considerably, allowing it to operate through shallows and deep ocean water equally well. Rosatom says that this effectively gives them two different classes of icebreaker in one ship, saving the agency hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.
The Arktika, Sibir and Ural are expected to enter service into opening paths in the Arctic in respectively 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Separately, China is also hard at work on its massive 33,000-ton nuclear icebreaker. There isn’t too much information regarding the project, but the South China Morning Post claimed that China General Nuclear Power Group has only referred to the project as an “experimental ship platform.” Which means that it’s likely it would be the first of several.
The US, meanwhile, in April it was announced that the US Coast Guard would soon receive it’s new heavy icebreaker, but it’s fleet is still woefully unprepared, especially compared to the Russian one.
In early May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Russia and China of malign activities in the Arctic, refused to acknowledge global warming exists, but at the same time said that the melting ice provided great economic possibilities.
But, of course, the US needed to lead any endeavor, since Russia and China would abuse it.
Regarding China he had the following to say:
“The Pentagon warned just last week that China could use its civilian research presence in the Arctic to strengthen its military presence, including by deploying submarines to the region as a deterrent against nuclear attacks,” he told delegates at the conference in Rovaniemi, Finland.
“We need to examine these activities closely, and keep the experience of other nations in mind. China’s pattern of aggressive behavior elsewhere will inform how it treats the Arctic.”
And about Russian conduct, he said this:
“In the Northern Sea Route, Moscow already illegally demands that other nations request permission to pass, requires Russian maritime pilots to be aboard foreign ships, and threatens to use military force to sink any that fail to comply,” Pompeo said.
“These provocative actions are part of a pattern of aggressive Russian behavior in the Arctic.”
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