Estonian energy company looking into feasibility of molten salt reactor
Estonian Fermi Energia and British-Canadian Moltex Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding that expresses the companies' intent to work together on a feasibility study for the siting and potential later licensing of a molten salt nuclear reactor in Estonia.
Jaan-Juhan Oidermaa of ERR's science portal, Novaator, interviewed Moltex's Simon Newton. Scroll down for the full interview in English.
Fermi Energia CEO, Kalev Kallemets, says that their ambition is to bring a first fourth-generation small modular reactor online by the early 2030s. "We are delighted to be working closely with Moltex Energy on this vital project. It is important for Estonia to have its own source of clean, cheap energy, and Moltex's innovative technology has huge potential for us," Mr Kallemets said according to a press release.
Simon Newton, in charge of business development at Moltex, said that Estonia is the perfect place to benefit from Moltex's Stable Salt Reactor technology. "We look forward to working closely with Fermi Energia, who share our vision of a carbon-free and low-cost grid," Mr Newton said.
Moltex is developing a molten salt reactor. This approach was first taken in the early stages of the Cold War, when the United States ran two programs investigating the possibility of a nuclear-powered strategic bomber.
Initial designs were shelved, and the world's nuclear industries developed along the line of high-pressure reactors developed based on the nuclear nations' experience with their atomic weapons programs. Interest in the molten salt reactor type resurged in the late 1990s, with several companies and at least two countries actively developing the technology at this time.
The molten salt reactor design has many advantages over the established pressurised types, including the virtual impossibility of a meltdown, a much lower risk of other accidents as it operates at atmospheric pressure, and the option to use existing nuclear waste as fuel.
Estonia still generates most of its power from burning oil shale at Eesti Energia's Narva blocks. This fossil fuel capacity will have been mostly retired by 2030, as blocks are getting older and taken off the grid without replacing them.
Watch the full interview:
Editor: Dario Cavegn