GE Hitachi, Fermi Energia sign small modular reactor MoU

03 October 2019

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Fermi Energia have agreed to collaborate on potential deployment applications for GEH's BWRX-300 small modular reactor in Estonia. In a Memorandum of Understanding they have agreed to examine the economic feasibility of constructing a BWRX-300 in Estonia, to review siting requirements and to assess nuclear regulatory requirements.

A cutaway of the BWRX-300 reactor design (Image: GEH)

Fermi Energia in July launched a feasibility study on the suitability of small modular reactors 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.

Jon Ball, executive vice president of nuclear plant projects for GEH, said today: "Our BWRX-300 small modular reactor is breakthrough technology that is designed to be cost competitive with gas and renewables and we think it represents an ideal solution for Estonia’s carbon-free energy needs."

"Estonia needs to consider new generation small nuclear technology to maintain energy independence and achieve climate neutrality," said Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia. "Boiling water reactors have been proven in the Nordics to be safe, economic and reliable providers of carbon-free energy for decades and the design of the BWRX-300 makes it investible and highly competitive technology."

Wilmington, North Carolina-based GEH says the BWRX-300, a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems, leverages the design and licensing basis of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission-certified ESBWR.

"Through dramatic design simplification, GEH projects the BWRX-300 will require up to 60% less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMRs or existing large nuclear reactor designs," it said. "By leveraging the ESBWR design certification, utilising licensed and proven fuel, incorporating proven components and supply chains and implementing simplification innovations, GEH believes that the BWRX-300 can become cost-competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas and renewables," it added.

GEH’s BWRX-300 is the tenth evolution of GE’s first boiling water reactor design.

Fermi Energia plans to publicise its feasibility study on the suitability of SMRs for Estonia in January 2020, GEH said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News