Fortum and Helen to explore cooperation on SMRs

25 November 2022

Finnish firms Fortum and Helen have announced a joint study to explore possible collaboration in new nuclear power, especially small modular reactors (SMRs).

Fortum has interests in countries across Europe and as far away as India (Image: Fortum)

The two companies have previously stated their interest in SMR developments and in the context of moves to tackle carbon emissions "the companies find that looking into the cooperation is a natural opportunity that should be investigated".

Fortum, an energy giant which includes the Loviisa nuclear power plant in Finland in its operations, announced in October a project to explore the prerequisites for new nuclear power in Finland and Sweden, including potential partner networks and cooperation arrangements. It says it sees SMRs as part of nuclear power's future and is "interested in the possibilities of nuclear in heat and hydrogen production".

Helen, which has 550,000 customers, produces heat, electricity and cooling in power plants and heating plants in different parts of Helsinki.

Fortum and Helen are now forming a study group to explore possible synergy benefits for the two companies.

Jukka Hautojärvi, Fortum’s representative in the joint study group, said: "Because of the uncertainty in the energy markets, projects carried out in the nuclear sector in the future are most likely to happen through various cooperation arrangements. The study being initiated with Helen regarding the prerequisites for cooperation is a great starting point not only for project mapping, but also for the partner mapping that we are doing with various parties as part of a broader look at nuclear power over the next couple of years. We will start the mapping from a clean slate. Our extensive exploratory work on the prerequisites of new nuclear power is just beginning, and we are not ruling out any form of cooperation at this point."

Harri Mattila, senior vice president, Energy Procurement and Wholesale for Helen, said: "Helen has been interested in SMRs for some time already ... we regard SMRs as one noteworthy production form of zero-emission energy for heating in Helsinki and also for electricity generation in the future. Helen has world-class expertise in the development of the largest district heating system in Finland, and Fortum has competence in the nuclear power technology. By combining these strengths, we could create a productive cooperation that would increase Finland's energy self-sufficiency."

In its announcement, Helen noted that the legislative work related to SMRs was still ongoing "and therefore various options in terms of the potential location are investigated. If modular nuclear power is utilised as efficiently as possible, it would be sensible to build the plant within a reasonable distance from the sites to be supplied with heat. Of course, a plant located within a further distance would also be possible".

The companies said that decisions on cooperation and investments will be made at a later stage.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News