The world's only operational floating nuclear power plant (FNPP), Academik Lomonosov, on 28 April, left Russia’s Baltic Plant in St  Petersburg, where it had been under construction since 2009, on the first leg of its journey to its final mooring at Pevek in Chukotka.  Dmitry Alekseenko, deputy head of the Directorate for the construction and operation of the FNPP at nuclear utility Rosenergoatom  (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom), said the vessel would be towed to Pevek in two stages –   from St Petersburg to Murmansk, and then from Murmansk to Pevek. At Atomflot in Murmansk, it will be loaded with fuel and take on board its crew, ready for delivery to Pevek in summer 2019. Fuel loading and the formal physical launch of the vessel will take place in Murmansk in the autumn. Vitaliy Trutnev, head of the plant's construction and operation, said the pace of work has stepped up in recent months, giving Rosenergoatom confidence it would be completed on schedule.

Rosenergoatom has contracted the Marine Rescue Service of Rosmorrechflot, to undertake the towing and shunting services. The estimated average speed of the towing caravan along the planned route, given favourable hydro-meteorological and ice conditions, and assuming no delays, will be 3.5 knots. In Pevek construction work is continuing on necessary infrastructure, including a mole-pier, a complex of buildings, hydraulic structures (GTS) and a coastal platform designed to provide safe parking of the FNPP and an energy transmission system. The FNPP will replace the ageing Bilibino NPP and Chaunskaya thermal power plant, which are already technologically obsolete, and will be the world’s most northerly nuclear power plant. Bilibino currently generates 80% of electricity in the region, but unit 1 is scheduled to be permanently shut down in December 2018 followed by units 2-4 in December 2021.

 FNPP Akademik Lomonosov (Project 20870) is the leading project of a series of mobile transportable low-power units. It is designed to operate as a part of a floating nuclear thermal power plant and represents a new class of mobile energy sources based on Russian nuclear shipbuilding technologies. The station is equipped with two KLT-40S reactors that are capable of generating up to 70MWe and 50 Gcal/h of thermal energy in nominal operating mode, which is enough to support a city of around 100,000 people. OKB Afrikantov is the chief designer, manufacturer and complete equipment supplier of these reactor units including reactors, control systems, pumps, fuel handling equipment, auxiliary equipment, etc.

The  FNPPs are intended for operation in the Far North and the Far East regions to provide energy to remote industrial enterprises, port cities, as well as gas and oil platforms at sea. Rosatom said the FNPP has been designed with a large safety margin taking into account all possible risks and is invulnerable to tsunamis and other natural disasters. The safety systems meet all modern requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), providing reliable protection for personnel and the environment.

Rosatom is now developing a new optimised FNPP which, if ordered, can be built in five years, TASS reported, citing Pavel Ipatov  Rosenergoatom Deputy General Director responsible for special projects.  "Today, Rosatom is developing a new optimised power unit using a new generation of the Ritm-200 reactor, which has more power, efficiency and better characteristics."  He said some northern Russian territories and several foreign countries had expressed interest in FNPPs. "We are expecting orders not only within the Russian Federation but also abroad, after launching this first unit – we are stimulating the development of the market for FNPPs." In Russia interest is mainly from developing northern territories,  and abroad from  South-East Asia and the Arab East. Some expressed a desire to visit the unit in Chukotka, he added, “and in future, I think that they will come up with specific discussions on specific orders”.  He noted that equatorial countries are interested in FNPPs not only for power generating but also for desalination.

Photo: Academik Lomonosov, the world's first floating NPP