Russia is a big place with lots of remote outposts. Getting power to those far-flung places can be a challenge. That’s why Russia has hatched a plan to create floating nuclear power plants, essentially putting them in port to supply energy to locations that need power but can’t build a traditional plant on land.
The concept of floating nuclear power plants has been around for quite awhile. After all, nuclear submarines are fairly common. The plan is to use KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors built onto a floating platform that can be towed to, and anchored at, its destination. The reactors are already in use in ice-breaking vessels.
Russia has plans to develop a whole fleet of these plants, with each one requiring a crew of 69 people. One vessel would be able to power a mid-sized city, an industrial area, or offshore oil operations. It also potentially could be used for desalinating water.
According to RT.com, initial construction of a floating nuclear power plant began back in 2007, but it was stalled due to financing. A new agreement signed last year has Baltiysky Zavod Shipbuilding, the shipbuilder behind the project, optimistic about a 2016 opening date.
There are bound to be questions about the sagacity of setting a series of nuclear power plants afloat on the water, but the manufacturers insist that the vessels are safeguarded against accidents, like tsunamis or collisions with other seafaring craft. Considering the previous delays, it will be interesting to see if the latest deadline can be met.