Nuclear power is one of the most controversial energy-generating methods, mainly because of safety and terrorism concerns. But that hasn’t stopped the United Industrial Corporation, a Russian manufacturer, from pressing forward with plans to build the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. When completed in 2012, the plant will provide power to the town of Viluchinsk, a city and atomic submarine base on the Kamchatka peninsula.
The power plant, which is worth $317 million, will contain two 35-megawatt reactors and will measure 472 feet long and 98 feet wide. Dubbed KLT-40C, United Industrial’s ship-shaped plant will cost the same per kilowatt hour as a hydropower station, but with the added benefits of machine maneuverability for servicing and the ability to be towed close to industrial sites that require large amounts of electricity. The plant is also far away enough from population centers to theoretically quell fears about terrorist attacks and meltdowns. Still, a nuclear accident on the high seas could have disastrous consequences.
Safety concerns might slow floating nuclear power plants from becoming popular now, but such complains will soon be overshadowed, as the International Atomic Energy Association estimates that the demand for atomic energy will climb 66% by 2030.