Fermi Energia selects technology for its nuclear plant

Fermi Energia has suggested GE-Hitachi could build a BWRX-300 nuclear power station.
Fermi Energia has suggested GE-Hitachi could build a BWRX-300 nuclear power station. Source: Fermi Energia

Fermi Energia has chosen the new-generation BWRX-300 compact reactor from GE Hitachi as the technology for its Estonian nuclear plant, the company reports. Fermi has been preparing to build the plant for many years, despite the fact that there is no decision by the Estonian parliament to allow a nuclear power plant in Estonia.

Fermi Energia, Estonian privately held nuclear energy company planning a nuclear power plant in Estonia by early 2030s, has chosen the BWRX-300 modular reactor from GE Hitachi, a joint venture between the United States and Japan, as the most suited out of the three bids received, with first such reactor to be built in Canada.

Fermi Energia said that the planning, design and construction of the Estonian nuclear power plant can begin gradually, based on the design and construction experience of the Darlington nuclear power plant to be built near Toronto in the Canadian province of Ontario.

The three finalists in the Fermi Energy technology competition were GE Hitachi, Rolls-Royce of the United Kingdom and NuScale of the United States.

"In its operating concept, the BWRX-300 is a boiling water reactor, which is widely used and well-known throughout Europe, particularly in Finland and Sweden. However, the specific reactor design is significantly smaller than that used in our northern neighbors' nuclear power plants, resulting in increased safety as well as cost and time savings. At the same time, it enables us to capitalize on our neighbors' expertise and provide consumers with affordable and consistent clean electricity prices," Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia, said.

"We are honored that Fermi Energy chose our small modular reactor to help Estonia meeting its energy security and climate goals," Jay Wileman, the president and CEO of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, said.

"The selection of this technology solidifies the BWRX-300's position as the leading compact reactor solution. The BWRX-300 provides long-term zero-emission generation at a low cost by utilizing a unique combination of readily available fuel, manufacturing simplifications, proven components and a reactor-based design that is currently licensed." Wileman said.

"Hundreds of new compact modular reactors are in various stages of development around the world, each one unique in some way. Some developers are experimenting with novel technologies that will take time to gain market acceptance, while others rely on tried-and-true, secure solutions. Estonia must proceed with caution when building its first nuclear power plant. It also outlines a number of pragmatic criteria for technology selection, which was ultimately awarded to GE Hitachi after extensive analysis," Marti Jeltsov, chief technology officer at Fermi Energia, explained.

The building of a nuclear power plant in Estonia requires a decision by the Riigikogu to permit nuclear energy, as well as the starting of a special national planning procedure to identify a suitable site for the project and the drafting of nuclear legislation.

The nuclear energy working group is examining the subject of whether or not a nuclear power facility is suitable for Estonia. It will provide the government with its final report by the end of the year.

Timo Tatar, secretary general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, said that he could not comment on Fermi Energia's potential nuclear power plant technology selection.

"This decision is not relevant to our working group at this time. Once the political debates are over and a decision on the construction of a nuclear power plant has been made, and if that decision is favorable, the state will be able to discuss which reactors Estonia should be permitted to have," Tatar said.

"Nuclear energy development must begin after political decisions have been made. Companies can begin planning and selecting reactor types, but construction cannot begin until the government determines that nuclear energy has a place in Estonia's energy portfolio," Tatar said.

Tatar said that Fermi Energy has no influence on the working group. "We strive to find independent answers to all questions; however, it does not mean that we would not be interested in reading Fermi Energia's analysis on the matter," Tatar explained.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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