Fortum, Outokumpu to investigate clean steel production with nuclear

March 31, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Outokumpu’s steel mill in Tornio, Finland. (Photo: Outokumpu)

Fortum—operator of Finland’s two-unit Loviisa nuclear power plant—has signed a memorandum of understanding with Finnish stainless steel producer Outokumpu to explore decarbonizing the latter’s manufacturing operations with the help of emerging nuclear technologies, the companies announced on March 23.

The agreement initiates a long-term process aimed at assessing potential construction of a small modular reactor in Finland, the companies said, with one possible site option being Finland’s Tornio region, where Outokumpu’s largest mill is located. Tornio is a city in Finnish Lapland, near the border with Sweden.

In the MOU’s first phase, the companies will attempt to identify potential business models and technical solutions for further development. Any potential investment decisions, the announcement added, will be made at a later stage.

Signers’ language: “Decarbonizing heavy industries is a prerequisite for reaching carbon neutrality in Europe, and this requires significant amounts of clean energy,” declared Markus Rauramo, Fortum’s president and chief executive officer. “The Nordic market is extremely competitive when it comes to clean and affordable power, and Fortum is one of the very few European companies that can deliver it reliably, when needed, and at scale to our customers already today. In the future, however, more will be needed. So, we are pleased to start collaboration with a steel industry forerunner like Outokumpu to explore the future potential of new nuclear power in the Nordics.”

Outokumpu president and CEO Heikki Malinen said, “Looking into emerging technologies in our energy supply is a natural step in our ambition to reduce CO2 emissions. In addition to wind, solar, and hydropower, energy-intensive industries and the whole society needs stable and CO2-free electricity generation. Today, nuclear power is the only alternative for this. Therefore, we are excited to explore the possibilities offered by small modular reactors together with Fortum, as part of our sustainability journey.”

Background: According to the announcement, the MOU is part of a Fortum nuclear feasibility study launched in the fall of 2022 to explore the potential for new nuclear construction in Finland and neighboring Sweden by examining commercial, technological, and societal conditions for both conventional large reactors and SMRs. At the time, study lead Laurent Leveugle, of Fortum, stated, “The challenges related to new nuclear are well known. Achieving competitive construction times and costs are must-win battles for our industry. In this feasibility study, we aim to explore novel partnerships, new business models and technologies, such as small modular reactors, which are promising in terms of taking nuclear power forward to future generations.”

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