Russia set to begin building floating nuclear power plants

The U.S. and Russian navies have long used nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers, and icebreakers. But a new kind of nuclear power is coming. Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov, currently under construction, will be a floating power plant with two 35-megawatt generators designed to supply power to hard-to-reach Arctic communities straight from the ship. After years of delay, the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation says it plans to build this first ship by 2016 and to ramp up to four to six in the near future to power up remote cities and industrial areas cut off from the regular power grid.

The U.S. and Russian navies have long used nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers, and icebreakers. But a new kind of nuclear power is coming. Russia’s Akademik Lomonosov, currently under construction, will be a floating power plant with two 35-megawatt generators designed to supply power to hard-to-reach Arctic communities straight from the ship.  After years of delay, the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation says it plans to build this first ship by 2016 and to ramp up to four to six in the near future to power up remote cities and industrial areas cut off from the regular power grid.

Rosatom spokesperson Denis Perkin says the new ship—which is not self-propelled and must be towed to a semipermanent pier site—can offer electric power and heat supply, simultaneously offering a desalination plant run by the reactor’s excess heat, producing “both electric power and high-quality fresh water.” Paul Genoa, senior director of policy development at Washington, D.C.’s Nuclear Energy Institute, says, “It is an exciting idea to bring power to communities that are really off the grid.” But we don’t know much yet about the risks of operating a floating nuclear plant.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Tim Newcomb