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Last month, the Akademik Lomonosov, Russia's first floating nuclear power plant, arrived in the remote town of Pevek in the country's Siberian Arctic region.As I explain in my book on energy geopolitics, it also is a cutting-edge example of how small modular reactors can be deployed more easily, flexibly and cost-effectively than traditional nuclear facilities.Although the Lomonosov will be the world's smallest and most northerly nuclear plant when it comes online, it may soon have competition.The U.S. used an ex-World War II cargo ship equipped with a nuclear reactor to generate power for the Panama Canal from 1968 to 1976, and Russia's fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers uses the same type of reactor as the Lomonosov.According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, nuclear power generation is second only to onshore wind in terms of carbon neutrality, with median carbon dioxide emissions of just 12 grams per kilowatt hour of electricity generation. Those concerned about CO2 emissions should therefore prefer nuclear energy to fossil fuels such as coal (820 grams/kWh) and natural gas (490 grams/kWh). Nuclear also outperforms biomass (230 grams/kWh), solar energy (48 grams/kWh), and hydropower (24 grams/kWh). In Germany's rush to move away from nuclear power following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, the country's energy sector has had to rely on coal for baseload power.
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