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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China to Finance Floating Nuclear Plant Project

Russia hopes to win a Chinese loan for a project to build a floating nuclear plant, and the two nations may cooperate in building more such plants in the future, officials said Wednesday.

A spokesman for state-run Rosenergoatom, the company that operates the country's nuclear power plants, said that it would cost about $145 million to build the floating plant and Chinese officials had offered a loan to finance the construction.

China could finance from 50 percent to 100 percent of the cost, said the spokesman, who asked not be named.

The plant would be capable of producing electricity and heat and desalinating water.

A statement posted on Rosenergoatom's web site said the floating plant would be built at a shipyard in the city of Severodvinsk in northern Russia. This and other plants that might be built in the future would be operated by Rosenergoatom and remain its property.

Floating nuclear power plants could claim a large share of the fast-growing global desalination market, the statement said. Their mobility would allow them to provide fresh water and electricity to coastal areas in Asia and Africa.

China wants to see Russia build and safely operate the first floating plant before it commits to further cooperation, Rosenergoatom's statement said.

In the future, China could build barges for such plants at its shipyards, the Rosenergoatom spokesman said. Russian and Chinese officials were to discuss details of the deal Wednesday, he said.

Russia has long been interested in using such plants to supply electricity to remote northern and eastern regions where severe weather makes construction on land difficult and expensive. But despite frequent announcements that the project had the green light, construction has not yet begun.

Environmentalists have criticized the plans as too risky, and questioned Russia's ability to safeguard such a facility from terrorists.