Although it is likely to surprise readers who associate cogeneration with Lovins' criticisms of "centralized planning," the Soviets were actually huge fans of cogeneration. This might be taken as evidence that cogeneration isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be, as anyone who has lived in St. Petersburg in the summer when the municipal hot water is turned off can tell you. I imagine it's a lot less fun when the system fails during the winter, which I've heard about but have been mercifully spared in my own experience. Because of these problems it's increasingly common for Russians to install water heaters in their apartments.
Whatever the shortcomings of the centralized water and space heating systems found in Soviet cities, they combined with the Soviet penchant for nuclear technology to inspire the creation of the Атомная теплоэлектроцентраль (АТЭЦ)--a nuclear plant designed to produce both heat and electricity. Officially, this term was reserved for a special variant of the VVER-1000 that was under construction in Odessa and Kharkov in the 1980s. These plants were canceled following Chernobyl. However, the principle of nuclear cogeneration was demonstrated before this at the Bilibinskaia AES in northeastern Siberia.
So here's what I'm wondering: why isn't the Bilibino nuclear plant "micropower?" It's much smaller than some of the fossil-fuel fired cogeneration plants that RMI includes in its statistics for "micropower," and it certainly has a better claim for climate-friendliness. In Forget Nuclear, RMI defined "micropower" as follows:
1. onsite generation of electricity (at the customer, not at a remote utility plant)—usually cogeneration of electricity plus recovered waste heat (outside the U.S. this is usually called CHP—combined-heat-and-power): this is about half gas-fired, and saves at least half the carbon and much of the cost of the separate power plants and boilers it displaces;It's pretty clear that most of the combined heat and power (CHP) plants in RMI's statistics are larger than Bilibino and no less removed from the consumer. But somehow I doubt that Bilibino has ever been included in RMI's tally of "micropower," or that Soviet plutonium-production reactors that also served a similar role in their cities of residence were included. I wonder why?
2. distributed renewables—all renewable power sources except big hydro plants, which are defined here as dams larger than 10 megawatts (MW).