Russia's Floating Nuclear Power Plant Has Great Potential For Decarbonization Trends

12 Nov, 2019

Russia's first floating nuclear power plant, the 'Akademik Lomonosov', is towed out of the St. Petersburg shipyard where it was constructed, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)

Last month the Akademik Lomonosov, a first-of-its-kind floating nuclear plant built by Russian state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, arrived at Pevek, a port town on the remote Chukotka Peninsula in the Russian Arctic.

The success of this project could mark a sharp change in the way nuclear power is deployed in areas where renewable energy cannot be implemented— and could herald new advances in the fight against climate change.

Undoubtably safety should come first, and environmentalists are right to ask questions. But as Dale Klein, a former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said discussing the reaction to the Lomonosov: “It’s just a scare tactic. It’s just to make people think about an accident of some kind. So, it has no basis in science.”

With opposition against nuclear energy growing, fanned by misunderstood technologies such as the Lomonosov, what is sorely needed is a genuine assessment of the role the atom must play in order to stave off climate disaster.

The pros for nuclear power are similar to the pros for renewable energy: power is produced without ongoing carbon dioxide emissions. But nuclear has critical advantages that renewables lack: it isn't intermittent, it is highly scalable, and it can be adapted to energy peaks and slumps throughout the day. It pairs very well with intermittent renewables in keeping the grid stable and clean.

Policymakers should not give in to pressure stemming from a deep misunderstanding of nuclear power. Whether activists like it or not, the technology is currently the only one promising to successfully limit carbon emissions while meeting growing power needs

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