Fermi Energia requests bids from three SMR vendors

15 September 2022

Estonia's Fermi Energia has said it will accept tenders from three small modular reactor (SMR) developers: GE Hitachi, NuScale and Rolls-Royce. The company said bids with comprehensive technical documentation needed to estimate the construction cost are expected by December, and the technology selection will be made in February 2023.

GE Hitachi's BWRX-300, which has so far been Fermi Energia's reference technology in nearly ten studies (Image: GE Hitachi)

Fermi Energia said its international partners and shareholders helped prepare the detailed call for tenders. It said in the selection of technology, the criteria are technological maturity, the establishment of a reference plant, economic competitiveness and the participation of Estonian companies in the supply chain. A project development and preliminary works contract will be signed with the winning bidder.

"We started selecting the technology already in 2019, at that moment mapping all the companies developing new nuclear technologies, of which there were several dozen in the world at that time," said Fermi Energia CEO Kalev Kallemets. "Some of them have turned out to be more successful, and from the successful ones, in turn, we have to choose the most suitable for Estonian conditions and the electricity system, taking into account the final price of the produced electricity for the consumer.

"All three small reactor manufacturers participating in the bid have initiated formal construction permit procedures with the regulator in major countries, and it is believed that the first reactors of their kind to be built will produce electricity at the end of the decade. It is justified to choose the best reactor technology of the new generation, which has already proven itself, to be built in Estonia."

According to Fermi Energia, the costs of building a small reactor with standardised, factory-produced components are significantly lower than in the case of large nuclear plants built so far, and the short construction time also helps to reduce the risk of delays and related costs.

"Compared to long-term fixed-price contracts offered to private and industrial consumers on the Baltic market, the electricity produced by a small reactor is many times more affordable, and we want to offer it to consumers with whom we have signed fixed-price electricity supply cooperation contracts," Kallemets added.

"Both NuScale and GE Hitachi are companies with financial support from the United States government, the British government has invested GBP210 million in the development of Rolls-Royce's small modular reactor," said Marti Jeltsov, Chief Technology Officer of Fermi Energia. "All three companies have achieved design maturity over the past few years, which provides significant certainty to the feasibility of the projects. The arrival of the new generation of small reactors on the market also gives Fermi Energia the opportunity to move ahead with the technology selection at a faster pace than planned."

Fermi Energia was founded by Estonian energy and nuclear energy professionals to develop deployment of SMRs in Estonia. In July 2019, the company launched a feasibility study on the suitability of SMRs for Estonia's electricity supply and climate goals beyond 2030, following a financing round from investors and shareholders. It selected four SMR designs to be included in the feasibility study: Moltex Energy SSR-W300, Terrestrial Energy IMSR-400, GE Hitachi BWRX-300 and NuScale SMR.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News