Fortum, Tractebel to assist in Estonian SMR deployment

28 January 2020

Estonia's Fermi Energia has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Finnish power company Fortum and Belgian engineering firm Tractebel to cooperate on studying the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the Baltic country.

The signing of the MoU by Fermi Energia's Kalev Kallemets (left) and Fortum's Petra Lundström (centre) (Image: Fermi Energia)

Fermi Energia was founded by Estonian energy and nuclear energy professionals to develop deployment of SMRs in Estonia. Under the MoUs with Fortum and Tractebel, cooperation will focus on developing a licensing model suitable for SMRs and a preliminary siting study for a light water SMR. Through the agreements, the companies have agreed to share with each other the results of the studies.

"For us, the greatest value of this collaboration is to start mutual learning through hands-on work with current nuclear power producers," said Fermi Energia board member and co-founder Kalev Kallemets. "The introduction of nuclear energy requires a number of related elements to be thoroughly analysed and further developed so that this form of energy production is competitive with other alternatives. Already in the early stages of working together to find the best solutions, we can be sure that there will be greater mutual understanding at a later stage."

Kallemets noted the desynchronisation of the Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - from Russia's electricity grid and the end of electricity imports from there which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2025. "Small modular reactors are an opportunity to ensure security of supply of carbon-free energy to Estonia and the Baltic States in all weather conditions," he said. Estonia currently generates most of its electricity demand from oil shale at the 2380 MWe Narva plant.

"These MoUs establish cooperation to support Estonia with developed know-how and capacity on SMR deployment project so that nuclear energy can give strong contribution into achieving EU carbon neutrality in 2050," said Denis Dumont, general manager of Tractebel's nuclear business operations.

Petra Lundström, Fortum vice president for nuclear, added: "Fortum has carried out R&D activities on SMRs for several years. SMRs are a potential future option to support decarbonisation of electricity and heat production. We are happy to cooperate with Fermi on this highly interesting topic."

Fermi Energia said it is in discussions on similar MoUs with two other European utilities "on in-depth analysis of spent fuel management and on SMR construction timing and planning". All studies will be completed by the end of this year and will be released in early-2021, it added.

Fermi Energia in July last year 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 said it had selected four innovative 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