A one-of-a-kind floating nuclear power plant, designed and built by Russia, has become the most northerly nuclear facility in the world, as it begins commercial operations in a remote region in the Arctic.
The Akademik Lomonosov, in a small town called Pevek in the far eastern region of Chukotka, is now fully commissioned, Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom reported on Friday. The completion of the plant, which will provide energy for the remote area, was one of the corporation’s main goals for this year.
“Today we can consider the floating nuclear power plant construction project successfully completed…It officially becomes the 11th nuclear power plant in Russia and the northernmost one in the world,” said Andrei Petrov, director general of Rosenergoatom, Rosatom’s energy division, which was responsible for the project.
While the floating nuclear power plant had been supplying energy to local networks since the end of last year, the facility required some additional permissions to become fully operational. After inspections at the facility, the plant was proven to adhere to all state norms and regulations, including safety and environmental ones. It has received approval from Russia’s technical, nuclear and environmental watchdog and other environmental authorities.
“The unique characteristic of this plant is its multifunctionality: the ability to provide faraway isolated regions of our country with heat, electric energy, and drinking water to those regions where the deficit exists,” said Vitaly Trutnev, Rosatom’s construction director.
The new source of energy is extremely important for those living in the small Arctic town, as it will replace a coal power plant that had been providing Pevek with energy and heat for over 75 years. The facility polluted air in the area, with locals saying that they were worried about their children, as soot turned snow black and covered their windowsills.
“We hope that the situation improves and ecology will be better,” a local woman named Elena said. “[And] also that there’ll be more jobs, and new infrastructure will be developed.”
Since December, the Akademik Lomonosov has generated 47.3 million kWh of electricity, meeting around 20 percent of regional demand. It’s equipped with two KLT-40S icebreaker nuclear reactors, generating up to 70 megawatts of electricity and 50 gigacalories an hour of heat energy.