Even if you don’t know much about geography, a distracted glance at a globe or a world map will show you just how much land Russia controls. The most densely populated regions of the country are west of the Ural Mountains, but there are still plenty of people to the east. The eastern population is vital to the economic future of Russia due to their work in mapping out and developing the country’s vast natural resources. What they often lack, though, is electricity.
The terrain (and often the weather) east of the Urals isn’t conducive to long stretches of electrical wire to bridge east and west. In many cases, the government may also be unwilling to bring to bear the resources required to power a specific area of the country, particularly for temporary settlements. Russia’s solution to this problem is to build a number of floating nuclear power plants that can provide electricity where needed.
Baltiysky Zavod Shipbuilding plans to use KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors constructed on floating platforms that can be towed over water and parked to provide electricity. Nuclear power at sea is hardly a new idea, as it has been used to provide energy for ships for decades. This project is basically just a scaled up version of what is seen in Russia as a proven technology.
As might be expected, many environmentalists aren’t precisely thrilled with the plan. Russia is adamant that the floating plants have been engineered to be nearly invulnerable to tsunamis or collisions with other ships. The plan was meant to go into effect over two years ago, but budget considerations forced it onto the back burner until now.
In addition to providing 70 MW of electricity, each 21,500 ton platform can also be modified to purify salt water to produce 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day. If the stations prove to be a success, a number of other countries, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Namibia, Cape Verde and Argentina, have shown interest in purchasing similar platforms.
Below you’ll find a video about the stations.