Russia launched the world’s first floating nuclear power plant on 28th of April 2018. The 70-megawatt plant named, Academik Lomonosov, was in the making from 2009 in St. Petersburg and is reported to have cost $232 mn to build.
The controversial plant has been built by Rosatom, Russia’s state-backed nuclear-technology company. The plant will pass through two stages before becoming fully operational. It left the territory of Baltiyskiy Zavod in St. Petersburg, where it was being constructed for last 9 years. In the first stage, it is being towed from St. Petersburg to the north-western Russian city of Murmansk in the Barents Sea with no nuclear fuel on board. Roughly in the summer of 2019, it will enter the second stage, when loaded with nuclear fuel (from Murmansk) and an onboard crew, it will make a journey from Murmansk to the seaport of Pevek in the Russian Arctic. The plan is to replace Pevek’s existing thermal power supply with the power supplied by this floating unit.
Once operational, the floating power plant is claimed to be capable enough to fulfill the power needs of a town with 100,000 people. According to Rosatom, the floating power plant is designed to serve in the areas of extreme North and the Far East. Its key objective is to fulfill the electric energy needs of remote port cities, industrial plants, and offshore gas and oil platforms in Russia.
The development of the floating power plant has remained mired in controversies around safety and environment. The original plan to load nuclear fuel in St. Petersburg itself was shelved by Rosatom after a petition by 12 thousand citizens of the city, several questions in the city’s legislative assembly, and concerns raised by the en route Baltic sea states.
Greenpeace ran a campaign to spread awareness about the dangers associated with a floating nuclear power plant. It even termed it ‘Nuclear Titanic’ and ‘Chernobyl on Ice‘.
However, several other countries have shown interest in buying floating nuclear power plants from Russia in the future. Russia is planning to start a line to mass produce such plants in future.