News / 25.11.2022

Helen and Fortum are looking into potential SMR cooperation

Helen and Fortum are investigating the possibilities of cooperation in nuclear power, especially in terms of small modular reactors (SMR). Both companies have already previously expressed their interest towards modular nuclear power. Despite the turbulent operating environment, it is important to ensure continuous transition of the energy sector towards low-emission and zero-emission production. In this situation, the companies find that looking into the cooperation is a natural opportunity that should be investigated.

- Helen has been interested in SMRs for some time already and has also expressed this publicly. We regard SMRs as one noteworthy production form of zero-emission energy for heating in Helsinki and also for electricity generation in the future. Helen has world-class expertise in the development of the largest district heating system in Finland, and Fortum has competence in the nuclear power technology. By combining these strengths, we could create a productive cooperation that would increase Finland’s energy self-sufficiency, comments Harri Mattila, Senior Vice President, Energy Procurement and Wholesale.

New technology and new forms of cooperation are needed in the green transition of the energy sector. Due to its rapid construction and large-scale production that curbs costs, modular nuclear power could be a competitive production form in comparison to other alternatives. In addition, Finland has a lot of expertise in nuclear power and a solution for the disposal of spent fuel.

- Because of the uncertainty in the energy markets, projects carried out in the nuclear sector in the future are most likely to happen through various cooperation arrangements. The study being initiated with Helen regarding the prerequisites for cooperation is a great starting point not only for project mapping, but also for the partner mapping that we are doing with various parties as part of a broader look at nuclear power over the next couple of years, says Jukka Hautojärvi, Fortum’s representative in Fortum and Helen’s joint study group.

On the international level, the development of various reactor concepts is well advanced. For example, in Canada, Ontario Power Generation has launched the preparation work for a plant project together with a western plant supplier and in Sweden the newly appointed government has undertaken to build more nuclear power in its government programme. As SMRs become more common, it would be sensible to harmonise safety requirements in the EU region. In the investigation work, we will also aim to find efficient solutions for the design, land use planning and the licensing process. In cooperation with the authorities and decision-makers, we can speed up the process for modular nuclear power, which is in the best interests of the whole country.

The legislative work related to SMRs is still ongoing, and therefore various options in terms of the potential location are investigated. If modular nuclear power is utilised as efficiently as possible, it would be sensible to build the plant within a reasonable distance from the sites to be supplied with heat. Of course, a plant located within a further distance would also be possible.

Any future decisions on cooperation and investments will be made at a later stage.

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