Norwegian firms to study SMRs for Halden

November 15, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

Halden, Norway, known in nuclear circles for its long-running (1958–2018) research reactor, is partnering with Norsk Kjernekraft (aka Norwegian Nuclear Power) and Østfold Energi, a hydro, wind, and heat energy provider, to explore the idea of siting a small modular reactor plant in the municipality, located in southeastern Norway, near the border with Sweden.

To carry out the work, the parties have founded a new company, Halden Kjernekraft AS, which will initially conduct investigations and surveys “as a decision-making basis” for any later steps, according to a joint November 9 announcement from Norsk Kjernekraft and Østfold Energi.

Halden holds a 20 percent stake in the new firm, while Norsk Kjernekraft and Østfold Energi own 40 percent each.

Power problem: There is currently a power deficit in Oslo, Akershus, and Østfold of 16 terawatt-hours, the announcement stated. Moreover, Norway’s power grid operator Statnett “has flagged that there is no available capacity for new, larger consumption without new production and increased network capacity into eastern Norway.”

Official words: “The time is ripe to investigate whether small modular reactors can be part of the solution to the power shortage in Østfold,” said Halden municipal director Roar Vevelstad. “We must explore all possibilities and not be afraid of knowledge.”

Jonny Hesthammer, Norsk Kjernekraft’s chief executive officer, noted that Halden “has long experience as a host for nuclear reactors and has solid expertise to make good decisions,” adding, “It is gratifying that Østfold Energi wants to participate in these investigations. They have extensive experience with the establishment of power production, which the investigation work will greatly benefit from.”

Østfold Energi’s director of strategy and business development, Martin Vatne, offered a cautious endorsement of the initiative, saying, “Now we want to investigate and acquire more knowledge in the first instance. This is not an alternative to renewable energy, but it can be a supplement in the longer term. Modern nuclear power has advantages related to area, controllability, and production hours, but is still controversial. There are many questions that need to be answered well. That is why we now want to put this on the agenda.”

In case you missed it: Norsk Kjernekraft—itself established only last July with the goal of bringing SMRs to power reactor–deprived Norway—announced this March the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce SMR. In that agreement, the parties pledged to work together to increase acceptance of nuclear power in Norway and to potentially establish projects that could lead to the deployment there of Rolls-Royce’s SMR units.

In June, Norsk Kjernekraft signed an MOU with consulting company TVO Nuclear Services—a subsidiary of Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, owner and operator of Finland’s three-unit Olkiluoto nuclear plant—to help Norway with its nuclear ambitions.

And in July, the Norwegian firm signed a letter of intent with Denmark’s Seaborg Technologies to investigate the possibility of deploying Seaborg’s 100-MWe compact molten salt reactor in Norway. Seaborg’s CMSR plants are designed to be installed on barges, with the ability to deliver from 200 MWe of power (a two-unit barge) to 800 MWe (an eight-unit barge).

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