The energy supply to Longyearbyen, midway between continental Norway and the North Pole, is a hot topic in the climate debate. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and the administrative centre of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Today, Longyearbyen obtains its electric power and district heating from its coal power plant, the only one in Norway. However, Scandinavia’s largest think tank has estimated that Svalbard’s future could be green and sustainable.
One of the major problems in the Arctic is nuclear waste from submarines, ice breakers and other nuclear powered vessels and stations. These legacies of the past Cold War era are still looming. Storage and treatment are cost-intensive and technically difficult. However, in Saida Bay near Murmansk, a brand-new radioactive waste treatment and storage plant is a brilliant example and symbol of what is possible if east and west invest into cooperation instead of arms race. Now, Murmansk governor Marina Kovtun has invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit the complex.
Pevek, a small Russian town near the Bering Strait above the Arctic Circle, will get the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. Construction of infrastructure has started in the beginning of October with a ceremony that put the first pile into Pevek’s waterfront.
Today, maintaining communications coverage north of Svalbard is a great challenge, but a new Norwegian research project promises a groundbreaking solution for far-north Arctic areas.
On the current Polarstern expedition, scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute have deployed a multicopter with a high-resolution camera to quantify marine litter floating on the sea surface. The deep-sea researchers had recorded a marked increase of man-made litter on the Arctic seafloor over the last ten years. That was the reason to now start the programme for the quantitative analysis of waste-entry on the sea surface.
A new study on the commercial opportunities and challenges of Arctic shipping by researchers at Copenhagen Business School’s Maritime Division finds that the navigation season on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will remain too short for investments in ice-class vessels to be economically viable in the coming decades. Only after the year 2035 may the Arctic shipping route along Russia’s northern coast became competitive for some ships of comparable size.
Even though the Northwest Passage has been opening up in summer almost every year since 2007, it still remains a tricky and difficult sea route for vessels due to sea ice and weather. Nonetheless, it fascinates people around the world to sail through this fascinating and mysterious waterway and numbers of tourists on small expedition cruise vessels have increased. Now, the ship owner Crystal Cruises plans to send the cruise ship Crystal Serenity with 1,070 passengers on board on the way through the passage. Concerns issued from experts and communities let the Canadian government watch closely the planning and implementation.
Clean energy is one of the most prominent topics currently discussed worldwide. The idea is to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and exploit sustainable energy sources like solar or wind energy. This means of going new and maybe unusual ways. For example, one of China’s top power officials presented the idea of a global power grid connecting solar farms close to the equator and wind turbines in the Arctic to the countries worldwide.
The Australian Antarctic Division and Royal Australian Air Force have successfully flown a joint operational mission to East Antarctica, with a C-17A Globemaster III delivering heavy cargo to Wilkins Aerodrome close to Casey station in support of the Australian Antarctic programme.
Russia had announced the construction of a new generation of nuclear icebreakers in 2009. The first icebreaker had been laid down in 2013 and is scheduled for commission in 2017. Now, the second ship, named Sibir, has been keel-laid in Murmansk on May 26. A number of high-ranking officials were present at this occasion.