Russian floating nuclear power station
Model of the Project 20870 (back) with a desalination unit (front)
|Planned:||at least 7|
|Type:||Nuclear power station barge|
|Length:||144.4 m (474 ft)|
|Beam:||30 m (98 ft)|
|Height:||10 m (33 ft)|
|Draught:||5.6 m (18 ft)|
|Notes:||2 modified KLT-40S Nuclear Reactors (Icebreaker type) producing 70 MW electric or 300 MW heat power|
Floating nuclear power stations (Russian: плавучая атомная теплоэлектростанция малой мощности, ПАТЭС ММ - lit. floating combined heat and power low-power nuclear station) are vessels projected by Rosatom that present self-contained, low-capacity, floating nuclear power plants. The stations are to be mass-built at shipbuilding facilities and then towed to the destination point in coastal waters near a city, a town or an industrial enterprise. Although the world's first floating nuclear power station was MH-1A built in the 1960s into the hull of a World War II Liberty Ship, the Rosatom project represents the first mass production of that kind of vessel. Early plans supposed at least seven of the vessels to be built by 2015.
The project of Russian floating nuclear power stations started in early 2000s. In 2000, the Ministry for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (Rosatom) chose Severodvinsk in Arkhangelsk Oblast as the place for building the first floating power generating station. Sevmash was appointed as general contractor. Construction of the first floating nuclear power station, Akademik Lomonosov, started on 15 April 2007 at the Sevmash Submarine-Building Plant in Severodvinsk. However, in August 2008 construction works were transferred to the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, which is also responsible for the construction of the next vessels. Akademik Lomonosov was launched on 1 July 2010, at a cost of 6 billion rubles (232 m$).
The floating nuclear power stations are non-self-propelled vessels with a length of 144.4 metres (474 ft), width of 30 metres (98 ft), height of 10 metres (33 ft), and draught of 5.6 metres (18 ft). The vessel has a displacement of 21,500 tonnes and a crew of 69 people.
Each vessel has two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors together providing up to 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat, enough for a city with a population of 200,000 people. It could also be modified as a desalination plant producing 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day. Another modification will be supplied by two ABV-6M reactors with a capacity of around 18 MWe (megawatts of electricity). Also, 325 MWe VBER-300 and 55 MWe RITM-200 reactors have been mentioned as potential reactors to use for the floating nuclear power station.
The hull and sections of vessels to be built by the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg. Reactors are designed by OKBM Afrikantov and are assembled by Nizhniy Novgorod Research and Development Institute Atomenergoproekt (both part of Atomenergoprom). The reactor vessels are produced by Izhorskiye Zavody. Kaluga Turbine Plant supplies the turbo-generators.
The floating power stations need to be refueled every three years while saving up to 200,000 metric tons of coal and 100,000 tons of fuel oil a year. The reactors are supposed to have a lifespan of 40 years. Every 12 years, the whole plant will be towed home and overhauled at the wharf where it was constructed. The disposal of the nuclear waste will be organized by the manufacturer and supported by the infrastructure of the Russian nuclear industry. Thus, virtually no radiation traces are expected at the place where the power station produced its energy.
Environmental groups are concerned that floating plants will be more vulnerable to accidents and terrorism than land-based stations. They point to a history of naval and nuclear accidents in Russia and the former Soviet Union, including the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.
Russia does have 50 years of experience operating a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers that are also used for scientific and Arctic tourism expeditions. The Russians have commented that a nuclear reactor that sinks, such as the similar reactor involved in the Kursk explosion, can be raised and probably put back into operation. At this time, it is not known what, if any, containment structure or associated missile shield will be built on the ship. The manufacturers believe that an airliner striking the ship would not destroy the reactor. According to MosNews, a Russian news outlet, there is no way an airliner striking the ship would destroy the reactor.
The 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents due to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami provide a sharp contrast to some comparative safety advantages of floating nuclear plants. Land based nuclear facilities must be designed for severe ground accelerations due to earthquakes. Many are placed close to a seacoast for access to sea water for cooling. Coastal locations tend to be the areas of maximum tsunami damage, requiring protective design and risk of catastrophic failure. A floating facility, near a coast but not in shallow water, can avoid the worst problems of earthquakes and tsunamis. In deep enough water, tsunamis have minimal effect on floating structures, and earthquakes transmit much less force to them. In the event of an accident, terrorist attack, or other calamity, it is essential to keep the core cooled, usually by covering it with water. An emergency measure can be to lower the core into the sea. In the worst case, accidental sinking or intentional scuttling will keep sea water on the core and prevent atmospheric release - again, especially in deep enough water. Finally, retired land based nuclear power plants can be difficult and expensive to clean up, including safety hazards of contamination. A floating plant is towed to a remote location that handles multiple such tasks.
A 2004 book on Russian floating nuclear power stations was written by a number of authors, including "Vladimir Kuznetsov, formerly of the Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety; Alexey Yablokov, a biologist, former environmental advisor to the Russian president and president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy; Yevgeney Simonov, senior engineer at the Obninsk nuclear power plant; Vladimir Desyatov, an engineer who worked in nuclear submarine construction; and Alexander Nitikin." The book concludes that such stations are impossible to protect against terrorism, that safety cannot be guaranteed ("The only question is how serious the emergency and its consequences."), and that an accident would be uniquely difficult to contain. Besides that, the book argues that such stations would be uneconomic.
Floating nuclear power stations are planned to be used mainly in the Russian Arctic. Five of these will be used by Gazprom for offshore oil and gas field development and for operations on the Kola and Yamal peninsulas. Other locations include Dudinka on the Taymyr Peninsula, Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula and Pevek on the Chukchi Peninsula. In 2007, Rosatom signed an agreement with the Sakha Republic to build a floating plant for its northern parts, using smaller ABV reactors.
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- Karl Grossman, CounterPunch, 27 July 2010, Floating Chernobyls
- Vladimir Kuznetsov et al. (2004), Floating Nuclear Power Plants in Russia: A Threat to the Arctic, World Oceans and Non-Proliferation. Green Cross Russia
- Akademik Lomonosov Floating Nuclear Co-generation Plant, Russian Federation