US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Estonia’s Fermi Energia have advanced their technology collaboration by entering into a teaming agreement to support the potential deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) in Estonia, GEH said on 8 March.

Through the teaming agreement GEH expects to support Fermi Energia in key areas such as licensing, human resources and supply chain development as well as continued development of the information and analysis needed for potential deployment of the BWRX-300 in Estonia. GEH and Fermi Energia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2019 in which the companies agreed to examine the economic feasibility of deploying a BWRX-300 SMR in Estonia.

“This teaming agreement further strengthens our relationship with Fermi Energia as it works to help Estonia fulfil its energy security and climate goals,” said Jon Ball, Executive Vice President for GEH. “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.”

'Through this agreement GEH and Fermi Energia will extend the excellent cooperation that started with our 2019 MOU,' said Fermi Energia CEO Kalev Kallemets. “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.”

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH's US NRC-certified ESBWR. GEH claims that the BWRX-300 will require significantly less capital cost per MW when compared with other SMR designs. By leveraging the existing ESBWR design certification, utilizing the licensed and proven GNF2 fuel design, and incorporating proven components and supply chain expertise the BWRX-300 can, GEH believes, become the lowest-risk, most cost-competitive and quickest to market SMR.

Fermi Energia was founded by Estonian energy and nuclear energy professionals to develop deployment of SMRs in Estonia. In July 2019, the company launched a feasibility study on the suitability of SMRs for Estonia's electricity supply and climate goals beyond 2030, following a financing round from investors and shareholders. It selected four SMR designs to be included in the feasibility study: Moltex Energy SSR-W300, Terrestrial Energy IMSR-400, GE Hitachi BWRX-300 and NuScale SMR. Fermi Energia has also been cooperating with Sweden's Vattenfall, Finland's Fortum and Belgium's Tractabel.

Earlier in March, the UK's Rolls-Royce and Fermi Energia signed an MOU to study the potential for the deployment of SMRs in Estonia. The study will cover all aspects of deployment, including grid suitability, cooling, emergency planning, human resources, licensing feasibility, economics and the supply chain.

Date: Thursday, 11 March 2021
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