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    • What a project, 20 years in the making. The idea is to provide electricity to the mining and oil producing regions around Pevek. They have to tow it when the Arctic ice is lowest all the way from Murmansk, where it is now. They say the cooling water of the Arctic Ocean should help its safety.

      Anyone concerned or is this a good thing?

      📷: CNN

    • I am down with what Bill Gates has to say about Nuclear. “Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day,” Gates said in his year-end public letter. “The problems with today’s reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation.”

      We need to look ahead and create better tech off of Nuclear as opposed to running from it and I think the Russian application is wildly interesting. It certainly does not come without hazards but the cost to benefit looks pretty good to me.

    • The worlds first nuclear barge - but certainly not the first nuclear powered warships, both above surface and sub surface warships. The Gerald R Ford class of aircraft carrier has ~ 700 MW of nuclear power - I didn't see the power specs for the Russian barge, did anyone else? So nuclear power in surface ships has a reasonable record in the US at least.

      The US has both Gerald Ford and Nimitz class nuclear powered carriers, numerous nuclear submarines, and France has the nuclear powered Charles De Gaulle. Russia used to have nuclear powered subs, and probably still does.

      I wonder if the Russian nuclear designs are now safer because of their experience with Chernobyl, or not. I wish I knew. I suspect they probably are, but offer no evidence.

    • I think the scalability of nuclear is attractive - if we remain committed to mass energy generation for mass populations. Technology would probably offer some risk mitigation, but as they say, you only need one significant melt down to render hundreds of square miles desolate.

      My first thought was that a power plant on a barge might constitute a major contamination risk since a significant incident would see the plant sinking into the sea, from whence currents could effectively distribute the radioactive effects over an ever wider area.

      However, maybe the trend should be towards micro generation for small populations. I am working on a project at the moment that uses shallow geothermal heat energy to power electrical turbines. It requires a government subsidy at the moment, but over time it may become a useful way to unobtrusively power individual towns.

    • Well, it’s now operational.

      Russia’s floating nuclear power plant is now operational after making the long journey across the Arctic Ocean.

      The power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, docked in the remote town of Pevek in September, Business Insider reports, where it’s now generating electricity for the first time. Operating a nuclear plant atop a barge is a world-first, and Russia expects the twin reactors to power as many as 100,000 homes — a plan that’s making environmentalists uneasy.

    • Critics of the plan have referred to Akademik Lomonosov as “Chernobyl on ice” or a “nuclear Titanic.”

      I dunno, it's replacing coal. Ships like the Titanic have come a long way in safety and so has nuclear. But the number of coal miners with black lung, the mine collapses, the environmental effects at a time when the arctic is on fire and melting... Nuclear is safer than coal by a mile, same as air travel is safer than cars, just scarier.

    • Risk assessment in banking depends on two main aspects, (1) Probability of Default ("PD"), and (2) Loss Given Default ("LGD").

      PD assesses how likely a default is, whilst LGD assesses how serious the loss to the bank will be if a default arises. Loans that have plenty of liquid collateral as security may have a high PD, but a low LGD and, therefore, be rated as lower risk to the bank.

      If we apply this technique to the nuclear barge, I would have to say it has a medium PD (compared to other energy sources), as there have been recent examples of failure. On the LGD side, one would have to acknowledge the massive costs of nuclear plant failure, both to immediate people and property, but also to wider populations by way of environmental contamination. The LGD profile is only worsened by having the reactor on a barge, as a catastrophic failure could see radioactive fall out being placed directly into water, thus widening the spread radius.

      I am not convinced that the PD-LGD balance is supportable in this instance.

    • Thing is, this isn't banking. It's not just about one-sided consideration of what the bank's risk is. The upside (the other side) is hundreds of thousands of families living above Arctic circle, and what having a reliable (possibly cheap) electricity source means to them.

      Some things are only possible with a certain risk tolerance.

    • The banking comparison is only an analogy.

      For "bank" substitute "local society" and see if the risk tolerance still stacks up.

      At the end of the day this is entirely subjective, and I fully appreciate you may have a different viewpoint.

    • Great post, but I think the fear of a massive LGD-like event comes from thinking of them like conventional nuclear plants.

      The brilliance of these barges is they just use the KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors that have been in wide use on ships safely for decades. They produce both heat and electricity, just as they do on ships, but at a fraction of the size of conventional reactors, surrounded by unlimited icy water for cooling. It’s like a naval vessel pulling up to your port.

      Of all the nuclear-powered ships in use from France, China, the US, Russia, etc., including big commercial icebreakers in the arctic, I’m not aware of anyone being exposed to radiation. I think that’s why these barges are being built at a shipyard: they build ships with KLT-40s as well.

      Contrast that with the massive known LGD-like risks of climate change, deaths and pollution from coal...

    • Yes, two of them on the barge. I was unaware of that too for a long time and it really changed my view when I heard.

      From Wikipedia:

      Each vessel of this type has two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors together providing up to 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat, or cogeneration of electricity and heat for district heating, enough for a city with a population of 200,000 people. It could also be modified as a desalination plant producing 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day.[10][11] Smaller modification of the plant will be fitted with two ABV-6M reactors with the electrical power around 18 MWe (megawatts of electricity).[12]

      By contrast, the smallest plant in the US produces 582 MW and the largest produces 4,000.