Fortum, Helen Oy to investigate SMR potential

November 30, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Finnish energy companies Fortum and Helen Oy are initiating a study to explore collaboration on nuclear power projects, with particular emphasis on small modular reactors, the firms jointly announced last week, adding the caveat that “any future decisions on cooperation and investments will be made at a later stage.”

The study is linked to a Fortum project unveiled in October to look into the potential for new nuclear construction, focusing on Finland and neighboring Sweden. In announcing that project, Fortum cited energy independence, security of supply, and carbon neutrality as motivating factors.

Operator of the two 507-MWe VVER-440/V213 pressurized water reactors at Finland’s Loviisa plant, Fortum has committed to carbon neutrality from its European generation business by 2035, while Helen has pledged to achieve that goal by 2030.

What they’re saying: “Because of the uncertainty in the energy markets, projects carried out in the nuclear sector in the future are most likely to happen through various cooperation arrangements,” said Jukka Hautojärvi, Fortum’s representative in the firms’ joint study group. “The study being initiated with Helen regarding the prerequisites for cooperation is a great starting point not only for project mapping, but also for the partner mapping that we are doing with various parties as part of a broader look at nuclear power over the next couple of years. We will start the mapping from a clean slate. Our extensive exploratory work on the prerequisites of new nuclear power is just beginning, and we are not ruling out any form of cooperation at this point.”

Hautojärvi also said that while “leveraging nuclear power’s potential in climate change mitigation and in solving the energy crisis requires significant investments and strong cooperation from different players,” Finland’s “strong will” around those issues “creates a favorable environment” for nuclear’s development.

Harri Mattila, Helen’s senior vice president of energy procurement and wholesale, noted that his company regards SMR technology “as one noteworthy production form of zero-emission energy for heating in Helsinki and also for electricity generation in the future,” adding that “Helen has world-class expertise in the development of the largest district heating system in Finland, and Fortum has competence in the nuclear power technology. By combining these strengths, we could create a productive cooperation that would increase Finland’s energy self-sufficiency.”

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