The floating power unit (FPU) Akademik Lomonosov has been connected to the grid, generating electricity for the first time in the isolated Chaun-Bilibino network in Pevek, Chukotka, Russia’s Far East. This happened after the Russian regulator Rostekhnadzor issued an operations permit, as well as permission to connect to the northern electricity grid maintained by Chukotenergo JSC.
Pevek residents marked this symbolic day by turning on the fairy lights on the town’s Christmas tree.
Rosatom’s CEO Alexey Likhachev said: “After its connection to the grid, Akademik Lomonosov becomes the world’s first nuclear power plant based on SMR-class technology to generate electricity. This is a remarkable milestone for both the Russian and the world’s nuclear energy industry. This is also a major step in establishing Pevek as the new energy capital of the region".
The project has been welcomed by scientists, nuclear energy experts and environmentalists across the world.
Kirsty Gogan, Head of Energy for Humanity, an NGO (London), said: “For hard-to-reach regions, with a climate that is simultaneously too harsh to support the use of renewable energies and too fragile to continue its heavy dependence on fossil fuels, small nuclear, including floating plants, is the only answer. Akademik Lomonosov is the first step towards demonstrating its potential for decarbonisation of the Arctic and beyond".
Connecting the FPU generators to the network was carried out after parameter synchronisation with the coastal network. This happened after the completed construction of the onshore facilities, ensuring the transfer of electricity from the FPUs to Chukotka’s high voltage networks. A vast amount of work was also carried out on constructing the heat supply networks. Connecting the FNPP to Pevek’s heat networks will be completed in 2020.
Once the FNPP will begin commercial operations, it will make it Russia’s 11th nuclear power plant. It will also mark the first time in Russia’s nuclear energy history that two nuclear power plants (the Akademik Lomonosov FNPP and the Bilibino NPP) operate in the same region.
Akademik Lomonosov is a pilot project and a ‘working prototype’ for a future fleet of floating nuclear power plants and on-shore installations based on Russian-made SMRs. The small power units will be available for deployment to hard-to-reach areas of Russia’s North and Far-East, as well as for export.