Guinea, Russia's Rosatom sign floating NPP cooperation agreement

By Elena Kachkova in Johannesburg June 10, 2024

The Republic of Guinea and Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate on the development of floating nuclear power plants (NPPs) to supply electricity to the African country.

The signing took place during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, World Nuclear News (WNN) reported on June 7. Under the agreement, the two sides will explore how the implementation of the sea-based units would work and discuss the terms and conditions for cooperation.

“The cooperation involves joint work on developing a power supply solution both to industrial and domestic consumers in the Republic of Guinea, by deploying floating nuclear power units with RITM-200 reactors, which have already proven efficient,” said Vladimir Aptekarev, deputy head of Rosatom’s Mechanical Engineering Division.

“The power supply issue in the African region is urgent, and our main task is to provide a fast, reliable and environmentally-friendly solution for our partners,” he noted, adding that the agreement demonstrated the high global interest in Rosatom’s technology.

Under a contract signed in 2021with Baimskaya mining company in the Chukotka Autonomous Region of Russia’s Far East, Rosatom’s Machine Engineering Division is supplying four floating power units (FPUs), each with a capacity of up to 106 MW of electric power, for the Baimsky Mining and Processing Plant.

According to Rosatom, the first two power units are expected to be operational by the end of 2026, with the third unit by the end of 2027, and the fourth by the start of 2031. The Baimsky project, Rosatom says, is the world’s first experience in electrification using FPUs for mineral extraction. The plant is expected to process 70 million tonnes of ore per year and is part of a broader strategy for the social and economic development of the Russian Arctic.

Rosatom’s FPUs are based on the RITM-200 reactors which have been used for the latest generation of nuclear-powered icebreakers, according to WNN. The first floating NPP, the Akademik Lomonosov, was launched in 2020 and operates offshore Chukotka, providing 70 MWe, plus heat, to the nearby coastal areas.

In an interview for WNN in May, Aptekarev said that 100-MW FPUs for export would be developed “with enhanced technical and economic performance suited for relatively warm climates,” adding that negotiations were “in progress with several countries across different regions of the world, with some negotiations already resulting in signed agreements.”

According to Aptekarev, the business model is not to sell the FPUs, but instead to sell the electricity generated from them, with power purchase agreements (PPAs) of up to 60 years. The refuelling interval for FPUs is expected to be between 7 and 10 years.

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