Interesting Engineering reports news about the power of Nuclear energy in the Arctic Russia Gives the Green Light to Its Floating Nuclear Power Plant to Begin Work. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Imagine a massive nuclear power plant. Now picture that massive power plant floating out at sea. And then you have the Akademik Lomonosov.
The Akademik Lomonosov is precisely that, a floating nuclear power plant, run by the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, or Rosatom, as it is more easily abbreviated.
The Akademik Lomonosov is not the first of its kind to start work offshore. Back in the 1960s, the US converted WWII war ship, originally the Liberty ship, was converted into a nuclear power plant, renamed the Sturgis. The Sturgis ended its working days in 1976.
Today, the Akademik Lomonosov has quite some power behind it.
Equipped with two KLT-40S reactor units, each able to generate 35 megawatt of power, it has some power behind it. With this power wattage it could essentially provide enough electricity to power a town of up to 100,000 people.
This is especially useful for a massive country such as Russia, with some extremely off-the-beaten-track towns in the North and Far East, as well as offshore oil and gas platforms owned by the country.
With this nuclear power plant, these far-to-reach spots could finally have electricity.
Rosatom’s subsidiary stated in a press release: “Rosenergoatom (Rosatom’s electric power division) has been authorized to use the nuclear facility of floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov for 10 years, until 2029.”
Allegedly, the floating power plant’s life span is up to 40 years, which could be prolonged to 50 years. 10 years hardly seems a stretch at this stage.
CNN picks up the story and spins it with help from Greenpeace (still mad at Russia for jailing their eco-terrorists).Russia plans to tow a nuclear power station to the Arctic. Critics dub it a ‘floating Chernobyl’ Excerpts in italics with my bolds
The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it’s key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20% of country’s GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.
The Lomonosov platform was dubbed “Chernobyl on Ice” or “floating Chernobyl” by Greenpeace even before the public’s revived interest in the 1986 catastrophe thanks in large part to the HBO TV series of the same name.
Rosatom, the state company in charge of Russia’s nuclear projects, has been fighting against this nickname, saying such criticism is ill founded.
“It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,” said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection. “Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.”
The idea itself is not new — the US Army used a small nuclear reactor installed on a ship in the Panama Canal for almost a decade in the 1960s. For civil purposes, an American energy company PSE&G commissioned a floating plant to be stationed off the coast of New Jersey, but the project was halted in the 1970s due to public opposition and environmental concerns.
At Real Clear Science Ross Pomeroy’s discusses the main distortions told by Greens The 3 Biggest Myths About Nuclear Power. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Earlier this year, an enormous confinement structure was completed and commissioned to seal away the highly radioactive ruins of Chernobyl’s number four nuclear reactor, a permanent reminder of the awesome – and potentially terrible – power of nuclear energy. More recently, Home Box Office (HBO) broadcast an even more penetrating reminder – the network’s television show Chernobyl garnered rave reviews and enthralled a wide audience. Nuclear power has once again been thrust to the forefront of society’s collective thoughts.
That makes this a great opportunity to shine the light of evidence on an issue clouded by confusion. For its rare, yet resonating disasters, nuclear energy prompts fear. But is that fear warranted?
Here are three common myths about nuclear power:
Myth #1. Nuclear is dangerous. In the minds of many, the examples of Three Mile Island, Fukushima-Daiichi, and Chernobyl, are enough to cement this statement as fact. But a full and rational examination of nuclear’s operational history swiftly dispels this common myth. As a variety of different analyses have shown, even when you factor in nuclear’s memorable accidents, it is vastly safer than any fossil fuel energy source. A NASA study in 2013 reported that “nuclear power prevented an average of over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide between 1971-2009” by displacing fossil fuel-based power stations and their associated dangers for miners, workers, and the general public. Nuclear may even be safer than renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as it reduces the need for hazardous mining.
All over the world, for decades, nuclear power has been producing emission-free energy quietly and consistently with vastly fewer ill effects compared to conventional power sources like coal and natural gas.
Myth #2. Nuclear waste is an unsolvable problem. Nuclear energy results in radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel rods – a big drawback. But did you know that coal plants actually produce more radioactive waste during their operation? Currently, more than 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (which would fill a football field twenty meters deep) are stored at more than a hundred sites around the United States, a workable but undesirable situation. However, that waste could be safely locked away in Yucca Mountain, a remote site in the Nevada desert situated on federal land. Political maneuvering has kept the site in limbo for decades, however. In the meantime, startups with high-profile backers like Bill Gates are racing to develop new forms of nuclear power that can actually recycle that waste, and there’s no technical reason to think that they won’t eventually succeed.
With a half-life as long as 24,000 years, nuclear waste may seem like a permanent problem, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.
Myth #3. Nuclear is prohibitively expensive. No doubt you’ve heard or read numerous accounts about nuclear power plants shutting down or even being canceled in the process of construction for being too expensive. It’s true, in some locations, the landscape of electricity generation makes nuclear unprofitable, but in most locations, nuclear power is doing just fine.
Though renewable energy proponents insist that wind and solar are all that is needed to power the future, current reality does not back that assertion. While cheap and growing cheaper, wind and solar are intermittent and thus require some sort of grid storage in order to provide power all the time. Gigantic batteries are the most likely option. But this technology is nowhere near ready yet, presents its own environmental hazards, and will likely be very costly.
On the other hand, nuclear could readily provide the baseload power our grid needs to provide electricity around the clock.
Footnote: See also Greens Killing Electricity, Nuclear In Decline