Nuclear Power

24 Mar 2023

GE’s Boiling Water Reactor Selected for Estonian SMR Plant

24 Mar 2023  by   

Estonian nuclear energy company Fermi Energia has selected GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 technology for its planned small modular reactor (SMR) plant.

The boiling water reactor technology, now in its tenth generation, was considered by Fermi Energia to meet the practical criteria and plan for its nuclear power plant for the early 2030s.

Initial construction will start in Canada with the design drawing on the design and construction experience for Ontario Power Generation’s Darlington new nuclear project near Toronto, Ontario, the first to select the technology and for which site preparation is under way with construction planned to be completed in late 2028.

Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia, says that the boiling water reactor technology is used and well known by many European countries, including Finland and Sweden but the specific reactor model is much smaller than those in the nuclear plants of those northern neighbours.

“[This] allows greater safety, lower cost and shorter build time. At the same time, it is possible to rely on the experience of neighbours and offer the consumer clean electricity at an affordable and stable price.”

The BWRX-300 is a 300MW water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems and is branded by GE Hitachi as its “simplest, yet most innovative boiling water reactor design” since its start in nuclear development in 1955.

Following OPG’s selection of the BWRX-300, Poland’s Synthos Green Energy has launched a plan to deploy a fleet of at least 10 of the units in that country with the first by the end of the decade.

SaskPower has selected the technology for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s and in the US, Tennessee Valley Authority has initiated planning for a potential deployment at its Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

GE Hitachi also reports having begun the design certification process for the BWRX-300 in the UK.

Competing with the BWRX-300 for Fermi Energia were Rolls-Royce and NuScale Power, both with pressurised water reactor technologies.

For the nuclear development to go ahead in Estonia approval will be needed from the country’s parliament, the Riigikogu, and a plan will be needed to select a site and put in place the relevant legislation.

But Kallemets is optimistic, saying: “We have analysed all the work ahead and consider it realistic to produce reliable, clean and affordable nuclear energy in Estonia by Christmas 2031, which should also be in the interest of society and the country’s climate goals. Understandably, this requires a serious effort from both the state and Fermi Energia.”

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