Rosatom has selected the five most promising sites in Chukotka, Yakutia and the Krasnoyarsk Territory for the construction of low-power NPPs in the Arctic, according to Semyon Musher, Science Adviser at JSC Rusatom Overseas (part of Rosatom). Earlier in 2023, Rosatom received a licence to deploy Russia’s first ever low-power land-based NPP (LNPP) in the Ust-Yansky district of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Its commissioning is scheduled for 2028.

"The decision is to construct NPPs for the Arctic,” said Musher. “If we want to develop it, we need to install small plants there. We have established a joint working group with the leaders of these regions. We have selected the sites together.”

The five sites include the Sovinoye gold deposit in the Iultinsky district of Chukotka. In Yakutia there are two sites – the Agylkinskoye complex deposit in the Tomponsky district and the urban-type settlement of Batagay in the Verkhoyansky district. Two more sites have been identified in Krasnoyarsk Territory – the urban-type settlement of Baykit in the Evenki district and the Bolshevik Island deposit on the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. Musher said these settlements in the Arctic were chosen taking into account the interests of the population, the local administrations and local industrial enterprises.

“We want to use 10 MWe Shelf reactor plants there. Construction takes four years from the date of obtaining a licence,” Musher noted. “As with all such facilities, the design first needs approval from Rostekhnadzor [nuclear regulator], since these are ground-based stations. After that, it will take four years, because these are harsh places. Elsewhere in a milder environment, they could build in three years.”

The developer of the Shelf-M reactor plant and the general designer is NA Dollezhal Scientific Research & Design Institute of Power Engineering (Nikiet). The service life of the station is 60 years and the reactor operates for about eight years on a single fuel load. The capacity of the reactor is 35 MWt or 10 MWe. It is planned to complete the technical designs of the reactor plant and the main process equipment by 2024 with the aim of launching operation of in 2030. The Shelf-M can operate using natural circulation of the primary coolant at approximately 30% of maximum power avoiding the need for power supply systems or pumps.

Image: The Shelf-M reactor concept (courtesy of Rosatom)