Floating nuclear power generator for Russian Arctic

Rosenergoatom, a unit of the Rosatom state corporation, has reported that the floating nuclear thermal power plant (FNPP) Akademik Lomonosov has completed trials and is ready to begin operation. The floating unit’s two reactors have been successfully fired to full capacity. During the 2019 summer navigation, the Akademik Lomonosov will be towed to the Arctic port of Pevek in Chukotka, where it is going to generate its first kilowatt-hours of electricity in December.

The floating solution is free from the disadvantages of stationary power units – after the end of its service life, it can simply be towed to a more convenient place where its reactor equipment will be disposed of. At the same time, its hull and generator may well be used in the future. The Akademik Lomonosov FNPP runs on a new KLT-40S pressurized-water reactor.

The small capacity of the floating nuclear power plant makes the electricity it generates quite expensive: the cost of installed power capacity is more than $8K per kW.

However, the project is still quite viable for the Extreme North, because a gas turbine or diesel unit requires uninterrupted supply of natural gas or liquid fuel, which becomes unreasonable with the added cost of its delivery or production in the Arctic or the Extreme North.

The high cost of electricity is not only the problem of Russia’s Chukotka. There are a lot of tropical island territories that are just as critically dependent on the delivery of cheap liquid fuel for power generation. Moreover, the general upward trend in oil prices is still out there. Therefore, the cost of FNPP electricity, which seems exorbitant today, may well be competitive in 5–10 years.

In that case, Russia will have a proven project of a floating nuclear power plant, which will successfully sell on foreign markets.

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