This is a ship like no other that raises the anchor at Murmansk, in the north-west of Russia, this Friday 23 August. The"Akademik Lomonosov", a nuclear power plant floating, begins his journey of 5000 kilometers to Pevek, a small town of 5000 inhabitants and the main Russian port in the east Siberian sea, where it will be connected to the network. Up here, the Akademik instructed its two nuclear reactors of 35 megawatts (MW) of fuel.
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The building is 144 metres long, should now sail the Arctic ocean for four to six weeks, depending on the weather and the amount of ice on the road. The block 21,000 tonnes, without an engine, would be towed by several vessels. Once at the destination, the installation will replace the nuclear power plant of Bilibino and the thermal plant of Chaunskaya, both end-of-life.Greenpeace is concerned
This is a global innovation, which required eleven years of work for the Russian Rosatom. The leading exporter of nuclear power plants in the world, has capitalized on the technology team icebreakers nuclear-powered. "These central buoys are designed as autonomous systems, to be able to access isolated areas to supply oil rigs, military areas or small towns," says the Figaro the French nuclear energy Society (SFEN). They are also much less intensive in the fuel as thermal power plants, which poses fewer technical constraints."
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Canada is interested in this technology to electrify its faraway provinces. China, which sees it as a substitute to diesel generators to power its platforms to offshore oil and gas. According to the agency, the China Energy Net Consulting, cited by the site Energeek, the electricity production would amount to 0.9 yuan per kilowatt hour with nuclear power, compared to 2 yuan with the diesel. The association Greenpeace remains concerned, however, the accident risk for those facilities are relatively small in size, without enclosure in concrete. "This is like putting a nuclear plant on a wooden pallet and let it float on the water particularly rough" refers to the NGOS.chinese Competitors
Not enough to make them doubt Rosatom. The manufacturer plate is already on a new generation of nuclear plants floating which the barge will be shorter and that the reactors will reach 50 MW. Its chinese competitors are still greater. China General Nuclear is preparing a floating reactor of 200 MW and the China National Nuclear Corporation, another 450 MW. As for France, it has launched in 2012 a project of reactors immersed in partnership with the Naval Group, EDF and the CEA. " The availability of a cold source unlimited would optimize the operation of the plant, including accidental releases," says the SFEN. The program, named Flexblue, is nevertheless fell by the wayside.
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More broadly, the power plants of small size, SMR (Small Modular Reactors) which are the subject of a growing interest of the nuclear industry in the world. Easily deployable, they are able to start quickly to meet specific needs, for example to compensate the troughs of renewable energy production (wind, solar farms). But this market is still marginal. According to the forecasts of the OECD, the SMR will be less than 20% of the nuclear fleet by 2050.Updated Date: 24 August 2019, 00:00