Nuclear Energy

Akademik Lomonosov: Worlds first floating Nuclear Plant

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the reactor

Mains level : Protective measures against nuclear hazards


  • Recently, a Russian-built floating nuclear power plant completed its 5,000-km journey along the Northern Sea Route.
  • This has sparked fears among environmentalists over the safety of the Arctic region.

Akademik Lomonosov

  • The Akademik Lomonosov is a first-of-its-kind floating nuclear power station built in St Petersburg, the Russian port city on the Gulf of Finland.
  • Three tugboats pulled it from the northern port of Murmansk for 5,000 kilometres to Chukotka, in Russia’s far east.
  • Named after the 18th-century Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, the 21,000-tonne floating plant is 144 m long and 30 m wide, and contains two nuclear reactors of 35 MW each.
  • It is a small plant compared to conventional land-based nuclear projects.
  • Run by the state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, it is expected to have a working life of 40 years.

Why such a plant

  • After it becomes operational next year, the plant will supply electricity to the Chukotka region, where important Russian national assets such as oil, gold, and coal reserves are located.
  • Some 50,000 people currently live in the area, and get their electricity from a coal power station and an ageing nuclear power plant.
  • The floating station would become the northernmost nuclear power project in the world.
  • Electricity supplied by floating power stations, without long-duration contracts or massive investments, is an option that island nations could consider.
  • Power from such small-sized plants can also be supplied to remote regions, as Russia plans to do.
  • Additionally, it is argued that nuclear power plants are a more climate-friendly option than coal-fired plants that emit greenhouse gases.

Fears and apprehensions

  • Environmental groups such as Greenpeace have criticised the project as a “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic”.
  • Activists fear that any accident aboard the plant could cause great damage to the fragile Arctic region.
  • A recent nuclear accident in Russia after which there was a brief spike in radiation levels has added to the fears.
  • The radiation fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is also cited as a reason to not rush into such projects.
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