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50-MW plants would be for district heating and could be online in 2030

Helsinki, capital of Finland. Finland is largely heated by district heating, mostly from fossil fuels, peat and wood. Courtesy Finland Tourism.

Finnish small modular reactor startup Steady Energy has signed a letter of intent with municipal energy company Kuopion Energia that includes an option for the construction of up to five district heating reactors starting in 2030.

The agreement is a continuation of a letter of intent regarding small modular reactors signed by Steady Energy and Helsinki-based energy company Helen Energy in October. That agreement included the construction of up to 10 SMRs for district heating.

“We now have an option to build a total of 15 reactors, which would correspond to approximately 1 billion euro [$1.1bn] in turnover,” said Steady Energy chief executive officer Tommi Nyman.

“The signed letters of intent reflect the strong desire within the energy industry to develop new affordable and low-emission energy technologies for producing district heat.”

Finland is largely heated by district heating, mostly from fossil fuels, peat and wood. District heting systems take energy released as heat from a range of energy sources – in this case an SMR – and connect it to energy consumers through a system of highly insulated pipes. One advantage of SMRs would be their low emissions.

Steady Energy says its goal is to build the first SMR for district heating in the 2020s.

Earlier this year, Steady Energy, a spinout of Finland’s state VTT technical research centre, announced it has raised €2m ($2.2m) to kickstart the development of a project for a district heating plant powered by an SMR.

Steady Energy said it will use the money for research and development work to demonstrate the functionality of its LDR-50 nuclear plant by building a 1:1 scale mockup powered by electric heat.

The LDR (low-temperature district heating and desalination reactor) technology produces 50 MW of heat. Connection to the district heating network would be through an intermediate circuit and two heat exchangers.

Steady Energy said the LDR-50 is designed to operate at around 150 degrees Celsius and below pressure levels of 10 bar. This makes its operating conditions less demanding compared to those of traditional reactors, simplifying the requirements to meet the high safety standards of the nuclear industry.

Date: Tuesday, 05 December 2023
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