Comprehensive testing of the two KLT-40S reactors installed on Russia’s demonstration floating NPP (FNPP), Akademik Lomonosov, have now been completed, nuclear utility Rosenergoatom (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) said on 24 April.

The purpose of the tests was to confirm that the technological parameters of nuclear power plants complied with the design, and to make sure that it is fully ready for operation. The reactors were brought to full power on 31 March. “Successful completion of tests is a great achievement of a large team of Rosatom specialists, said Rosenergoatom director general Andrei Petrov. “In recent months, in accordance with the programme, all necessary inspections of the NPP systems and equipment have been carried out during the phased increase of its power.” He added that following the tests, the commission for the acceptance of the vessel into service would be drawn up, a licence for which is scheduled for July.

By the end of 2019, in Pevek (Chukotka Autonomous Region) where the FNPP will finally be moored, it  work on construction of the onshore and hydraulic structures will be completed, as well as the infrastructure required to ensure the transmission of electricity to the grid of Chukotenergo and heat to the city’s heat network. All the work is on schedule, said Petrov.

During the summer navigation period of 2019, the FNPP will be towed to the port of Pevek, where it will replace the retired capacities of the Bilibino NPP and the Chaunskaya coal-fired plant. It is expected that the first kilowatts of electricity from the FNPP will be transmitted to the network in December.  “Most probably, full operation will begin in April 2020," Chukotka’s First Deputy Governor Mikhail Sobolev told Tass.

The  Akademik Lomonosov (project 20870) is the lead project of a series of low power mobile transportable power units. It represents a new class of energy sources based on Russian nuclear shipbuilding technologies intended for operation in the regions of the Far North and the Far East. Its main goal is to provide energy to remote industrial enterprises, port cities, as well as to gas and oil platforms located in the open sea. Rosenergoatom said the FNPP had been designed with a large safety margin that exceeds all possible threats and makes it invulnerable to tsunamis and other natural disasters. The two KLT-40S reactor units are capable of generating up to 70MW of electricity and 50 Gcal/h of thermal energy in nominal operating mode, which is enough to ensure the energy consumption of a city with a population of about 100,000. The units can also power a desalination plant.

The idea of building floating nuclear stations was originally mooted in 1992. The keel of the Akademik Lomonosov was laid in 2007 by the military shipbuilder Sevmash at the White Sea port of Severodvinsk. However, work on the 470-foot vessel was interrupted when Rosatom cancelled the contract in the face of financial and technical problems and transferred the work to the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg, where a new keel was built in 2009. The hull was launched in 2010, and the two 35MWe KLT-40S icebreaker reactors were fitted in 2013. The cost of the Akademik Lomonosov has been estimated at RUB21.5 billion ($331 million), but follow-up plants are expected to cost considerably less.

Currently, Rosatom is working on a second generation FNPP – an optimised floating power unit – which will weigh less but produce more energy.  This will be equipped with two RITM-200M reactors with a capacity of 50MW each. Afrikantov OKBM is the chief designer, manufacturer and complete supplier of the equipment for these reactors.

Photo: The FNPP has been declared ready for commercial operation (Credit: Rosatom)