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Nuclear energy group recommends building nuclear power plant in Estonia

The national working group on nuclear energy recommends the construction of a nuclear power plant in Estonia, as the introduction of nuclear energy would contribute to Estonia's climate objectives, security of supply and stability of the energy system.

The nuclear energy working group's final report found that nuclear energy will boost Estonia's renewable energy.

Although it requires thorough preparation, the working group believes that with timely planning, sufficient funding, political and public support, the introduction of nuclear energy in Estonia is feasible, the press service of the Climate Ministry said.

Over the past two and a half years, the national nuclear working group has been analyzing the potential of small modular reactors, following the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) roadmap for the development of national nuclear infrastructure, which identifies 19 key issues for the deployment of nuclear energy.

Antti Tooming, deputy undersecretary of the Ministry of Climate and head of the working group, said nuclear energy has proven its worth in many countries around the world. "Nuclear energy has the potential to ensure a stable energy supply in Estonia for future generations," he said in a press release.

He said that global interest in nuclear energy, especially small modular reactors, is growing. Tooming highlighted that if the state chooses nuclear power, it must not delay emission reductions or reduce renewable energy generation and storage capacity.

Without prior experience, introducing nuclear power to a country takes years of preparation and 9-11 years before the supply of electricity. Estonia should prepare the legislative framework, acquire capabilities, and begin siting if nuclear is chosen.

A country without nuclear power experience must prepare for years before starting to generate electricity from a nuclear facility. If Estonia decides to become nuclear, it should begin legal preparation and competency development.

A new national authority will have to be established in order to regulate nuclear energy safety, employing a total of about 80 personnel.

The climate and radiation department of the Environmental Board, which will be absorbed into the new agency, will have to hire more than 60 additional personnel, including several dozen nuclear specialists, some of whom would have to come from abroad, at least during the initial transition period.

As the private sector finances the construction of a nuclear power plant, the state's role is to create a framework that allows the use of nuclear energy, the total cost of which from the implementation of the nuclear program to the start of electricity generation, i.e. over a period of 9-11 years, would be in the order of €73 million.

There will also be costs related to creating emergency response capabilities, the precise amount of which will be determined later. Implementing nuclear energy would also generate additional revenue for the state, most notably in the form of increased revenue from taxes and economic stimulus, which would outweigh the expenses of establishing and maintaining the national framework.

Small modular reactors with a capacity of fewer than 400 megavolt amperes would be suitable in Estonia, according to the final evaluation.

Whether or not to launch a nuclear power program in Estonia will be discussed by the government and the Riigikogu in the first months of 2024.

The final report of the nuclear energy working group will be published on the website of the Ministry of Climate on December 30 at 10 a.m..

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Editor: Mait Ots, Kristina Kersa

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