Mosnews.com has posted an article announcing that Russia’s Federal Nuclear Agency will build a low power floating nuclear plant – the first of its kind in the world.
Russia to Build World’s First Floating Nuclear Power Station for $200,000.
Aside from the rather obvious error in the title with regard to the cost of the plant, the article provides some interesting information and an artist’s conception of what the plant will look like.
The idea of a floating nuclear power plant has been around for a number of years. The Russian project was actually announced with some fanfare in early 2003, and there were a number of articles published at that time. Steve Schulin at Nuclear.com even created a separate page to track the stories
Floating Nuclear Plant news at Nuclear.com.
Of course, floating nuclear power plants are really nothing new. The first nuclear power plant that actually was built to produce reliable power from nuclear fission was the engine for the USS Nautilus, which went to sea on January 17, 1955, a bit more than 50 years ago. There have been several hundred nuclear power plants installed on ships in the navies of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia.
There have even been a few prototype commercial ships including America’s NS Savannah, Germany’s Otto Hahn and Japan’s Mutsu. Probably the most successful application for non naval nuclear ships so far is as icebreakers, a half dozen or so of which are operated by an agency of the Russian government. http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/icebreakers/
I guess the reason that these shipboard power plants do not count is that they only produce electric power for internal use, not for delivery to the electric power grid.
There was also a floating nuclear electric power plant project in the United States called Offshore Power Systems, which was led by Westinghouse. The project progressed far past the concept stage. Westinghouse and its partners built a manufacturing facility at Blount Island near Jacksonville Florida that was designed to be able to build the large, 1000 MW power plants in a shipyard setting. The facility had one of the largest overhead cranes ever built and employed over 1000 people at its peak. Westinghouse sold four plants to Public Service Electric and Gas in New Jersey during the period from 1972-1975. All four orders, however, were subsequently cancelled, and Offshore Power Systems never delivered a plant. Interestingly enough, the culprit that received the most blame for the cancellation of this project was the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.
That’s right. The action that resulted in a quadrupling of the price of oil – from about $3.00 per barrel to about $12.00 per barrel in the short period from 1973-1974 – has been credited in a number of sources for contributing to the hiatus in US nuclear power plant construction that has now lasted for about thirty years. That story is probably worth its own article – look for it on Atomic Insights by the end of this month.