China to develop floating nuclear power plant

Steps are underway for the development of a floating nuclear power plant, to be deployed in Chinese waters.

The Chengdu-based Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) this week signed a co-operation framework agreement with Lloyd’s Register Energy for the design and development of the floating vessel, which will contain a small modular reactor (SMR).

The floating plant will supply power to China’s offshore installations, Lloyds Register Energy said.

As a first step under the agreement, the co-signers aim to develop new nuclear safety regulations, safety guidelines, and nuclear codes and standards for the floating vessel that are consistent with Offshore and International Marine Regulations and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Nuclear Safety Standards.

NPIC said in a statement that “We believe there is substantial opportunity to further efforts in developing safe, clean and sustainable power generation for the future, and our latest initiative to develop energy supplies to offshore installations through nuclear power is just one example of how we are seeking to innovate and apply new ways of using nuclear technology for robust power supply.”

Melvin Zhang, Lloyd’s Register Energy’s vice-president of strategic development for Greater China, added: “This marks the beginning of a ground-breaking initiative for the Chinese nuclear industry, taking nuclear power generation offshore. It is also excellent news for the people of China and those working offshore in Chinese waters with the need for consistent and safe power supply.

“This project is expected to set the pace for how nuclear power can be used and applied to support sustainable power generation in both energy and marine sectors,” Zhang concluded.

In 2014, China signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom to jointly develop floating nuclear power plants beginning in 2019. Meanwhile, Russia itself has been building a floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov (pictured, artist's rendition), planned to be completed in 2016. However, the project’s cost has reportedly ballooned from a 2006 estimate of RUB9bn ($140m) to RUB37bn in 2014.


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