Russia and China have held their first meeting for cooperation in the development of marine nuclear energy for floating power plants and potentially for propulsion of large ships.
While hundreds of nuclear reactors have been employed in the military navies of China, France, Russia, the UK and USA for decades, only Russia has maintained a fleet of civil nuclear ships: the icebreakers that work the country's Arctic ports and one freighter. Other countries' forays into civil marine nuclear power - the NS Savannah, the Otto Hahn and the Mutsu - did not continue in the long term due to various social, economic or technical factors.
Russia went on to expand its leadership in this area with the adaptation of the KLT-40S small reactor for installation in pairs on a barge. This vessel could be docked in remote places to supply power and heat either to the local population or new industry. The first such floating nuclear power plant, the Akademic Lomonosov, is at an advanced stage of construction at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard. The barge is completed and afloat, with main power systems already fitted. Eventually it will be maneuvered along rivers and canals to the Arctic sea and towed to the town of Vilyuchinsk on the Pacific coast of Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east. Another is planned for Pevek, on the Arctic coast.
Chinese interest in this kind of power source has grown steadily in recent years and has now reached the level of formal cooperation. The first meeting for this was held at the end of November in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Around the table were representatives of power plant operator Rosenergoatom, designer OKBM Afrikantov as well as China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and its subsidiary the Nuclear Power Institute of China.
Rosenergoatom reported a 'high degree' of interest from the Chinese side, 'with a view to joint development of design solutions for the construction of floating nuclear power plants in China and joint promotion of projects in third countries.'