World’s First Floating Nuclear Power Plant Sails

On April 28, local time, the floating nuclear power plant "Akademik Lomonosov" built by Russia left the shipyard in Russia’s second-largest city St. Petersburg for its maiden voyage toward Siberia. The craft would be towed through the Baltic Sea and the northern corner of Norway to Murmansk, a city in the northwest of Russia to load fuel. Then, it would be towed to the Far East region of Russia and enter the coast of Chukotka near the Arctic, where it would be put into service.

With the mission of providing electricity for a surrounding port city, as well as an oil drilling platform and a desalination plant,"Akademik Lomonosov"is expected to be officially put into use in 2019. It is estimated that this dual-nuclear reactor will deliver electricity for 200,000 residents in the port area of Siberia.

Russia has invested about $480 million in the construction of "Akademik Lomonosov", which is 140 meters long, 30 meters wide, 10 meters high, and has a displacement of 21,500 tonnes and a crew of 70 people. The ship is powered by an upgraded version of the Tamil ice-breaker power reactor. Before heading to Murmansk, the floating nuclear power plant had been tested by technicians to ensure the safety of nuclear reactors. In terms of power generation, the vessel has two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors together providing up to 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat, for 200,000 people.

Besides the nuclear power facilities, seawater desalination facilities at the giant floating nuclear power plant could provide 240 thousand cubic meters of fresh water per day.

However, the plan is criticized by environmental groups, who have compared the power plant as a "nuclear Titanic" and "floating Chernobyl".

Russian state-controlled nuclear energy firm said in a statement: "The power plant 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 reaction processes at the floating power plant are consistent with all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and do not pose any threat to the environment."

The St Petersburg Baltic shipyard (Baltiysky Zavod), builder of the "Academician Lomonosov", said its safety standard is not second to the level of nuclear power plants on land. There are multiple measures to prevent nuclear leakage and ensure the safety of the reactor in event of tsunamis and other natural calamities and the lifespan of the reactor could reach 35-40 years.

It is reported that the construction of a second floating power plant is expected to launch in 2019 with Russian state media reporting that the crafts could also be marketed to other countries.