The first electricity from Arctic Russia’s new floating nuclear power plant lights up Pevek — beginning with the Christmas tree

The Akademik Lomonosov, arrived in Chukotka in September, is now powering Pevek's grid.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - December 20, 2019
The Christmas tree in Pevek was lighted on December 19 with electricity from the nuclear-power plant Akademik Lomonosov. (Rosatom via The Independent Barents Observer)

At 11 a.m. Moscow Time on Thursday, the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov delivered its first electricity to the grid in Pevek, Russia.

And symbolically, given the season, the town’s Christmas tree was first to be lighted with electricity produced by the two reactors on board the plant that is moored in the port.

In addition to the town of Pevek, the grid includes the Chaun-Bilibino junction in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, according to Rosatom.

“Today a historic event occurred, the first connection of the “generators of Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear heat- and electricity nuclear power plant were connected to the grid,” Rosenergoatom Director General Andrey Petrov said.

He said Pevek is now the new energy capital of the region, “a stronghold for the development of western Chukotka and a key link for the Northern Sea Route.”

The floating nuclear power plant was last week granted operational approval by Glavgosexpertiza, Russia’s Main Department of State Expertise.

A view shows Russia’s floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov and tugboat Dixon before the departure from the service base of Rosatomflot company for a journey along the Northern Sea Route to Chukotka in Murmansk, Russia August 23, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov / Reuters File Photo)

With Akademik Lomonosov now in operation, Russia increased the number of nuclear-power plants from 10 to 11. This is the third nuclear-power plant located north of the Arctic Circle. The two others are Bilibino (also in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug) and Kola NPP in the Murmansk Oblast.

Bilibino has already shutdown its first reactor, the three others will soon be closed. So will the Chaun coal-heat power plant, whose capacity will also be replaced with energy from Akademik Lomonosov.

Built in St. Petersburg, the plant was towed to Murmansk in 2018 where the reactors were loaded with uranium fuel and tested for a year, before being towed to Pevek in August and September this year.

Based on a barge, the plant has two KLT-40S reactors of similar type as powering the current fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers operating along the Northern Sea Route.