Russia and China to Collaborate on Developing Floating Nuclear Power Plants

floating nuclear power plant
Illustration courtesy of Jake Jurewicz/MIT-NSE

Rosatom, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation announced last week that its subsidiary Rusatom Overseas signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CNNC New Energy Company (China) to cooperate in the development of floating nuclear power plants.  This MOU followed a visit last month by a Chinese delegation to United Shipbuilding Corporation’s Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg where the world’s first floating nuclear power plant (NPP) is currently under construction.  Delivery of that first unit is planned for Q3 2016.

The MOU was signed by Mr. Qian Tianlin, Director General of CNNC New Energy Company, and Mr. D. Aliev, CEO of Rusatom Overseas.

“The potential use of floating nuclear power plants is significant. The design provides for two options – self-propelled or barge-mounted floating NPPs. They might be connected to coastal infrastructure or float next to consumer. Floating NPPs can provide a reliable power supply not only to remote settlements, for example, in the Far North and Far East regions, but also to large industrial facilities such as oil platforms,” – noted Mr. D. Aliev.

Other benefits of floating nuclear power plants is that they can be installed almost any coastal area to provide a steady source of power for remote locations or perhaps for desalination plants, notes MIT associate professor of nuclear science and engineering (NSE), Jacopo Buongiorno.  Unlike the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, a floating power plant could be made almost entirely immune to seismic activity while at the same time be immersed in the ocean, a limitless source of cooling for the nuclear reactor.

Buongiorno discusses the concept of floating nuclear power plants in the following video: