Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE)- The world’s first ocean going nuclear power plant, designed and built by Russia, has started its journey across the Arctic to its ‘workplace’ in the Chukotka Region and will provide Russia’s remote areas with heat and energy.
During a special ceremony the vessel, named the ‘Akademik Lomonosov,’ left the city of Murmansk to be towedfive thousand kilometers, to the small far-eastern port of Pevek, on the Arctic coast of Chukotka. Two tug boats and one reserve vessel will tow the floating nuclear power plant.
The Akademik Lomonosov and its assisting vessels are scheduled to reach their destination by the end of September; their exact arrival time will depend on weather conditions. The plant is set to become operational by the end of the year.
Chukotka is one of the most isolated regions of Russia, with harsh climate conditions impeding massive construction and the region in need of replacing its aging energy infrastructure. The new nuclear power facility can provide the necessary energy for the local population and plants located in the remote region, as well as for oil and gas rigs.
‘Akademic Lomonosov’ has two KLT-40S reactors on board, that have a special security system allowing them shut down if necessary, even if the crew were absent or the power supply down.
The reactors are capable of producing up to 70 megawatts of electricity and 50 giga-calories-an-hour of heat energy.The 140-meter long vessel itself was designed to meet high safety standards, ensuring that any kind of collision, including with another ship or with a rock, or a natural disaster, would not damage the reactors. The floating power plant’s operational lifespan is 40 years. It has a displacement of 21,500 tons and a crew of 69.
The concept of a floating reactor has attracted criticism from environmentalists, Greenpeace in particular.