Russia’s long-delayed floating nuclear power plant will be operational by 2016, the federation’s nuclear power station operations arm Rosenergoatom announced in July. The subsidiary of state atomic energy corporation Rosatom says it plans to complete the Akademik Lomonosov within the next three years and then to build four to six other floating plants in the near future to power hard-to-reach Arctic communities.
The Akademik Lomonosov is Rosenergoatom’s first-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant (Figure 6) and will contain two 35-MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors—technology that is already being used in icebreakers and is also proposed for wider use in desalination. The flush-decked non-powered vessel has a heat rating of 140 Gcal and an expected plant life of 38 years with 12-year cycles and outages for repair in between.
Rosatom, which anticipates that small nuclear power plants could take over up to 20% of the nuclear power plant construction market, has promoted the use of floating nuclear heat and power plants because, it says, they offer an economic alternative to onshore power plants in remote areas with costly power transmission and fossil fuel derivatives.
The vessel’s keel was laid in April 2007 at Sevmash in Severodvinsk, northwestern Russia, but the project was subsequently transferred to Baltiysky Zavod, one of Russia’s oldest shipyards, located in St. Petersburg. Engineered by the Aisberg Central Design Bureau of St. Petersburg, the 21,500–metric ton hull of the ship was launched in 2010. Afrikantov Design Bureau in Nizhny Novgorod manufactured the plant’s reactor parts, and Kaluga Turbine Works supplied the steam turbine plants.
Construction work was frozen in mid-2011, however, as the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard sank into insolvency and the partly built floating nuclear power plant was seized by the Court of Arbitration of St. Petersburg at the request of Rosenergoatom, which was reportedly concerned it would forfeit its investment of 9.8 billion rubles ($340 million) if the shipyard’s assets were taken over during the bankruptcy proceedings. In May 2012, Baltiysky Zavod was acquired by state-owned United Shipbuilding Corp., and Rosenergoatom signed a new contract with the shipyard for completion of the floating power plant in December 2012. The 140-meter by 30-meter plant is now scheduled for commissioning in 2016, even though Rosenergoatom claims more than 90% of the work on the hull of the Akademik Lomonosov has been completed.