The agreement between GE Hitachi (GEH) and Fermi supports the potential deployment of the next-gen nuclear technology. GE Hitachi would support the home company in areas such as licensing, human resources and supply chain development, as well as the analysis needed to determine feasibility of building the SMR plant in Estonia.
“This teaming agreement further strengthens our relationship with Fermi Energia as it works to help Estonia fulfill its energy security and climate goals,” John Ball, GEH executive vice president, said in a statement. “We believe the innovative BWRX-300 SMR is an ideal solution for Estonia’s carbon-free energy needs and we look forward to continuing our work with the Fermi Energia team.”
GEH and Fermi originally signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019.
The BWRX-300 is a 300MW, water-cooled natural circulation SMR, based on the U.S. NRC-licensed ESBWR (Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, illustrated here). Both reactor models have passive safety systems and GNF2 fuel design.
The BWRX-300 also is the 10th revolution of the boiling water reactor design, first developed by GE and Argonne National Laboratory in the mid-1950s. Small modular reactors, including those developed by other companies such as NuScale Power, are seen as ways to expand carbon-free nuclear energy with lesser footprints and costs than massive, conventional plants currently in operation.
Estonia had been considered one of the worst carbon-dioxide emitters in the European Union, as most of the power generation mix is fueled by oil-based resources. The nation, however, has increased its renewables mix 13-fold in the past two decades.
“We look forward to continuing to develop in greater detail decision material for a credible National Spatial Plan and help Estonia meet climate goals while maintaining security of supply of energy for Estonians and the region,” Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia, said.
Estonia has adopted a long-term sustainable development strategy focused on better education, economics and ecological balance as among its goals. Its Sustainable Development report indicates that the nation’s energy sector emitted about 13.8 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year as late as 2018.