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Is Vattenfall Betting On New Nuclear Power Plants?

Stockholm , Sweden- The Swedish energy supplier Vattenfall wants to participate in an Estonian pilot study on small nuclear power plants. Is the renaissance of nuclear power plants now coming?

In Estonia, carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatthour of electricity are among the highest in Europe. The main reason is the use of oil shale as fuel in two large power plants. However, this is apparently set to change. The Estonian development company Fermi Energia is currently conducting a pilot study to analyse the possibility of building a small nuclear power plant in Estonia. In addition to the Swedish energy provider Vattenfall, the Finnish state energy provider Fortum and several others are involved in the work of the study, Vattenfall announced. The aim is to examine how far the development of SMR technology has progressed, what cost conditions and permits there are and what the future of such a reactor in Estonia could look like.

SMR solution: The small nuclear power plant for the outskirts?

With the term and description of "small modular nuclear power plants", the nuclear industry conveys the message, that such a "small power plant" could easily and effortlessly be placed somewhere on the outskirts of a city. However, apart from central safety, location and operational issues, there is little or no reliable information about the costs, realistic construction times and chances of realization.

The category "SMR reactors" so far includes the floating nuclear power plants Akademmik Lomonosov 1 and 2, each with a capacity of 32 MW, which were commissioned in Russia in 2019. Here, as on the mainland, the search for and planning of nuclear power plant sites is not the same. Another SMR reactor is under construction in Argentina, the Carem 25 (Carem -Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares) with a net capacity of 25 MW. The start of construction on the site of the Atucha nuclear power plant was in February 2014, but the plant is still not finished after 6 years (3 years were planned). The amount of the investment costs is unclear. Argentina absolutely wants to market and export this type of plant made in Argentinia worldwide against hard dollars. However, whether this can be achieved is currently in the stars, given the rapid fall in prices for renewable energies and storage systems.

About the power supply in Estonia

Estonia is the northernmost of the three Baltic States and borders on Russia. A good 1.3 million inhabitants live in the EU country. The installed power plant capacity in Estonia is comparatively very small, amounting to just 3,000 MW. The annual power generation reaches about 12 billion kWh. More than 2,000 MW of power plant capacity is accounted for by two power plants in which the domestic raw material oil shale is used as fuel.

Source: IWR Online, 23 Mar 2020