Estonia’s privately held nuclear energy start-up company Fermi Energia has signed a Letter of Intent with Sweden's Kärnkraftsäkerhet och Utbildning (KSU), a member of the Vattenfall Group, to conduct training related to the Estonian small modular reactor (SMR) programme. KSU, which trains operators and maintenance personnel for Swedish NPPs, will support Fermi Energia in conducting courses and utilising simulator technologies and other training tools during the preparations for deploying and SMR plant in Estonia.

KSU will be a long-term training partner for Fermi Energia to ensure the future safe operation and maintenance of the NPP through professional training of future plant employees. The protocol of common intentions sets out mutual interests in the development of competences in the nuclear energy sector, focusing on the development of training and qualification schemes, programmes, personnel qualification systems, skills testing and the implementation of training programmes.

"Fermi Energia has been cooperating with KSU for three years,” said Fermi Energia management board member Henri Ormus. “They have provided valuable seminars and training on nuclear energy and introduced nuclear energy as part of practical visits to Swedish nuclear plants. KSU is GE Hitachi's partner in developing the BWRX-300 reactor training programme, so we see KSU as a long-term partner in creating, developing and training the operators and other personnel of the Estonian nuclear power plant.” KSU’s agreement with GE Hitachi was concluded in January 2023 and the following month, Fermi Energia chosen GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's (GEH's) BWRX-300 SMR for deployment in Estonia by the early 2030s.

Fermi Energia was founded by Estonian energy and nuclear energy professionals specifically 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. This followed a financing round from investors and shareholders. At that time, four SMR designs were included in the feasibility study: Moltex Energy SSR-W300, Terrestrial Energy IMSR-400, GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 and NuScale Power’s SMR.

In 2022, before selecting the BWRX-300, Fermi Energia had also considered tenders from NuScale and the UK’s Rolls-Royce. Fermi Energia said the criteria for selection were technological maturity, establishment of a reference plant, economic competitiveness and participation of Estonian companies in the supply chain.

The BWRX-300 design is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems. It is the 10th evolution of GE’s boiling water reactor (BWR), hence the “X” in its name. The design is based on the Generation III+ 1,520MWe ESBWR, which the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified in 2014. The BWRX-300 is currently undergoing a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Pre-licensing Vendor Design Review and a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Pre-application design review.

Photo courtesy of Fermi Energia

Date: Saturday, 20 January 2024
Original article: