Russian floating nuclear power plant sets sail

Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov, has embarked on its year-long journey to the Arctic port of Pevek.

Criticised by Greenpeace as a “nuclear Titanic”, Lomonosov is the first floating nuclear power plant of its kind. The barge will supply 70MW of power and also heating water for a town of 100,000 people. The small modular nuclear reactor output is relatively small when compared to the recently debated Liddell Power Station’s 1680MW coal-fired capacity.

Constructed in St Petersburg, Lomonosov’s engineers originally planned to load the plant with nuclear fuel there, but local opposition forced planners to tow the unit to a base in Murmansk where fuel will be loaded before finally reaching the Arctic port. The Arctic environment is already fragile due to pressure from climate change, and nuclear power increases concern for many European environmentalists. The company that designed the Lomonosov insists that precautions have been taken, claiming it is practically invincible against tsunamis and satisfies all requirements set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Previous plans for floating nuclear power in the US were cancelled following opposition. In 2017, the Jakarta Post reported that Rusatom Overseas had offered to supply Indonesia turnkey nuclear power plants and a previous 2015 agreement mentioned floating nuclear technology, but there are no plans for Australia’s northern neighbour to deploy a nuclear barge in the near term.

Is Lomonosov a “floating Chernobyl” or a zero-carbon energy innovation? Russia plans to construct their next floating reactor in 2019.

Read more: NPR / Independent / Washington Post

Image: Rosatom – Akademik Lomonosov

This story is taken from the 04 May 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.