Nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers and even icebreakers have been in operation for over 50 years now with a remarkable success rate. So Russia is planning to further commercialise that technology by building a fleet of floating nuclear power plants that will provide electricity to remote areas where building a permanent reactor is either too expensive or too dangerous.
The first floating nuclear power plant is expected to be in operation by 2016. Using two KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors, it will produce up to 70MW of electricity — enough to power a city with 200,000 residents. Initially the plants will be targeted at remote operations like oil drilling platforms and the like, but they could also be used in places like Japan, where a tsunami would pose less of a safety risk if a nuclear power plant could literally ride out a storm.
The portable plants offer additional functionality too. They can be easily modified to serve as floating desalination plants, producing 240,000 cubic metres of fresh water every day. And in an extreme emergency they could help get a coastal area back on its feet by stepping in when local power generating facilities have failed.