atw Vol. 63 (2018) | Issue 3 ı March
ENERGY POLICY, ECONOMY AND LAW 150
Renovation of the country’s icebreaker fleet will
continue. Currently another icebreaker, Leader, is being
developed. This ship would enable year-round navigation
of ships with up to 100,000 t deadweight and up to
50-m-wide hull over the whole Northern Sea Route. This
would be a huge ship over 200 m long and about 40 m
wide. Its capacity – 120 MW – would be unprecedented for
icebreakers (though such military ships and passenger
liners do exist). Russia already has an engineering design
ready for the Leader. Negotiations are currently underway
to identify its manufacturer plant and construction
schedule. Powerful icebreaker fleet became increasingly
demanded following the start of the Yamal-LNG Project
that “opened new horizons for our national economy”,
according to President Putin.
2 Nuclear power plants for the Arctic
As concerns nuclear energy for hardly-accessible areas,
decades of RD&D have not yet yielded any significant
advancement of nuclear sources in this seemingly obvious
Initially, all works related to the development of both
stationary and transportable SNPPs were concentrated in
the USA and the USSR.
At the very beginning of 1950ies, the United States have
for the first time started to pay serious attention to SNPPs,
exclusively because of their army’s interest. Such SNPPs
(with capacities ranging from 0.3 to 3 MW) intended as
energy sources for remote military bases have been
deployed in Alaska, Greenland and even the Antarctic, but
in the sixties all of them have been shut down. In 1968, the
United States have installed a floating NPP – MH-1A
Sturgis (10 MW) – in a lake near the Panama Canal. It has
operated for 8 years (Figure 2)
operation since 1974, but the concept of building small
stationary NPPs similarly to large ones was abandoned.
Rosenergoatom Concern (the Russian nuclear generating
company) considers this NPP, with its low efficiency and
too many workers required per power capita, rather as an
encumbrance than as a prototype for the future.
The global situation with SNPPs is quite similar. The
IAEA small- & medium-sized reactor (SMR) database 
(IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency) contains
information on dozens of designs – but virtually all of them
are still paper designs at various stages of development.
There are still no market signals to confirm enthusiastic
forecasts of some experts and companies (such as, e.g., the
U.S. NuScale Power) who predict good commercial future
for SMRs. Only the 25-MWe CAREM (that demonstrates
obvious features of a prototype ship reactor) and pilot
high-temperature reactors are currently under construction
in Argentina (since 2014) and China (since 2012 –
two-module Shidao-Bay-1), respectively.
| | Fig. 3.
Finally the FNPP construction is nearing completion.
| | Fig. 2.
Mobile and transportable NPPs.
As for the Soviet Union, it has launched its strategic
R&D on small reactors in the middle of 1950ies. In October
1956, a governmental decision on SNPP deployment has
Figure 2 presents some interesting designs (TES-3,
PAMIR, ARBUS) that have achieved the implementation
stage. However, all these facilities were demonstrationonly.
The only exclusion is the Bilibino NPP with its four
12 MWe water-graphite reactor units. The plant is in
In 1990ies, Russia has adopted a long-ranging decision
of principle: to build a floating NPP (FNPP) to demonstrate
the advantages the nuclear energy offers for remote
isolated regions. This NPP was to be barge-based, factorybuilt
and returned to the special site for every refueling
and repairs . KLT-40, a nuclear icebreaker reactor
with proven high reliability and safety, was chosen for
installation at this FNPP. After its start in 2007, the FNPP
construction went on with great difficulties – it has
survived not only the change of the manufacturer plant
and multiple changes of the first operating site
( Severodvinsk, Vilyuchinsk, Pevek), but also what was
maybe the worst – on-the-go redesign to allow for use of
low-enriched fuel. In 2016, the FNPP – Akademik
Lomonosov – achieved the stage of dock trials (Figure 3).
Unfortunately, this redesign reduced the capacity and
hence the refueling interval (to 2–3 years) of the FNPP, so
that it had to be equipped with refueling equipment and
spent fuel storage. This contradicts with the key conceptual
requirement, which inhibits any onboard operations
with fuel for future floating NPPs. So today the developers
are facing the task to extend the refueling interval of future
floating NPPs to 10–12 years.
This task is becoming increasingly important with the
latest incentives intended to solve the energy supply issue
in the Russian Arctic – and pertinent to the strategic issue
of supplies to hardly accessible areas and, prima facie, to
the “Arctic vector” of the Russian energy industry .
Below follows the opinion of Mikhail Kovalvchuk,
President of the Kurchatov Institute: “In recent years, the
development of Arctic areas became a strategic priority for
Energy Policy, Economy and Law
Russian Nuclear Energy Technologies for the Development of the Arctic ı Andrej Yurjewitsch Gagarinskiy