Role of clean energy in development of Russia’s Arctic region 

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Russia plans to commission four modernized floating power units by 2031 in the Chukotka region located in the country’s Arctic belt, thus increasing the share of nuclear power in Chukotka’s energy sector from the current 31 percent to more than 68 percent in order to improve the quality of life in the area and develop the Baimskaya ore mining zone. 

This was among the various other plans to develop nuclear power and reduce the carbon footprint that were outlined at a session titled “The Far East and the Arctic – A Territory of New Energy” organised earlier this month by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. 

Following an agreement with the adjacent Republic of Yakutia in northeast Russia, Rosatom has announced plans for construction of a land-based small modular reactor (SMR)-equipped nuclear power plant. The agreement envisages the setting up of the RITM-200, which is an integrated generation III+ pressurised water reactor designed to produce 55 MW electricity. 

“The construction of a low-capacity nuclear power plant in Ust-Kuyga, which we started with Rosatom, will really change the Yakut Arctic. This will be a major mining project. It will allow the development of gold-bearing and tin deposits and the emergence of a huge industrial Yana-basin territory with its energy heart in the form of a low-capacity nuclear power plant,” the Head of the Yakutia Republic, Aisen Nikolaev, said at the conference.  

A Rosatom statement said the construction of low-capacity nuclear power plants with a RITM-200 reactor unit will ensure the economic and technical feasibility of large infrastructure projects, such as the development of the Kyuchus cluster of solid mineral deposits in the Republic of Yakutia and power supply for the Baimsky Ore Mining and Processing Plant in Chukotka. 

The world’s only floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) – Akademik Lomonosov – currently supplies both electricity and heat to the city of Pevek in the Chukotka region.  

“Today there are two nuclear power plants operating in Chukotka Autonomous Region, their total installed capacity making up 31 percent of the region’s total generation. This is true ‘green’ energy, with no harmful emissions into the soil, air or water. We continue to develop cooperation with Rosatom. By 2031, with the commissioning of four modernized floating power units, the share of nuclear power in the energy sector of Chukotka will already amount to 68.4 percent”, Governor of the Chukotka Autonomous Region, Roman Kopin, said.   

It was noted at the session that the implementation of SMRs would mean economically feasible tariffs for consumers, forecast taking into account the project life cycle and the high quality of electricity. According to Rosatom, the SMR project based on RITM-200 reactors features compact design, modularity, short construction period and high safety standards with the service life exceeding 60 years.  

“The region has a great export potential due to the proximity of such countries as China, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Myanmar, among others. Today, we already have a number of projects in the Far East – Akademik Lomonosov, the world’s first and only floating nuclear power plant located in Pevek. There is a modernized floating power unit; four such units will be in operation at Baimsky Ore Mining and Processing Plant”, said Rosatom Director General (DG) Alexey Likhachev.  

Rosatom today is a multidisciplinary entity which has diversified into projects that include hydrogen production, lithium-ion batteries, and renewable energy, such as setting up wind farms on Sakhalin Island. 

“At the heart of modern environmentally friendly energy is a human-centered integrated approach focused on the strategic development of the Far East and the Arctic for decades to come”, Rosatom said.  

“In addition to nuclear power, we are involved in the creation of the Sakhalin hydrogen cluster: this is about both the generation of hydrogen and the creation of a hydrogen train. We are also planning to build a composite shipbuilding yard on Sakhalin. There are successful ventures in wind power, energy storage, nuclear medicine and so on”, the Rosatom DG said.  

According to the company, its investments in the development of Russia’s Arctic region through ongoing projects will help in creating around 6,000 jobs via investments of more than 700 billion rubles by 2030. A third of these funds is earmarked for the renewal of its nuclear icebreaker fleet, while another quarter will go towards mining projects. In addition, Rosatom is equipping the Northern Sea Route facilities, building port infrastructure, and developing transit.