Russia to Develop First Mass-Produced Floating Nuclear Power Plant for Use in the Arctic

On April 21, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that Russia will be launching the first floating nuclear power plant in 2016.  The non-self-propelled vessel named Acadmec Lomonosov is to be 144 meters long and will be capable of producing 70 MW of electricity, enough to power about 22,000 households.  The vessel is powered by on the same nuclear engines that have been used for Russia‘s Arctic icebreakers for years.  Russia reportedly plans on mass-producing ship- based nuclear power stations similar to Academc Lomonosov and will use the vessels to power onshore installations as well as offshore oil rigs and refineries in the Arctic.

Exploration and development of Arctic energy resources is a top priority for Russia.  The country held large-scale military exercises in the region on March 17, 2015 that involved some 38,000 troops, 41 ships, 15 submarines and 110 aircraft.  This show of force was in response to NATO drills in Norway and demonstrates Russia‘s willingness, and readiness, to defend its controversial Arctic claims.  Russia is troublingly far ahead of the West in its ability to operate in the Arctic and currently has 41 icebreakers in service, six of which are nuclear powered.   No other country with activities in the Arctic has more than seven such vessels.

According to Rosatom, 15 countries, including China, have shown an interest in leasing or contracting such power plants for their own uses.  Rosatom signed a memorandum of understanding with China to develop a floating nuclear power plant in late July 2014.  The two countries held their first discussions on this concept in December 2011.  China has yet to develop plans for its own floating nuclear power plant and Russia‘s current production of such vessels does not incorporate significant Chinese input.