Seaborg SMR to be considered for use in Norway

18 July 2023

Norsk Kjernekraft and Denmark's Seaborg have signed a letter of intent to investigate the deployment of Seaborg's compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) in Norway.

Seaborg's Eirik Eide Pettersen (left) and Norsk Kjernekraft CEO Jonny Hesthammer (Image: Seaborg)

The Norwegian company aims to build, own and operate small modular nuclear power plants in Norway in collaboration with power-intensive industry. It will prepare license applications in accordance with national regulations and international standards. It will follow the International Atomic Energy Agency's approach for milestones, and focus on what creates value in the early phase. Financing will take place in collaboration with capital-strong industry and solid financial players.

Initially, Norsk Kjernekraft will establish small modular reactors (SMRs) based on conventional technology, "in order to relieve the increasingly demanding energy situation as quickly as possible". At the same time, the company is also looking "even further ahead, where Seaborg's advanced technology will play a very important role in the emission-free energy mix of the future, particularly with respect to industries that are difficult to decarbonise through electrification".

Seaborg's design is for modular CMSR power barges equipped with between two and eight 100 MWe CMSRs, with an operational life of 24 years. Instead of having solid fuel rods that need constant cooling, the CMSR's fuel is mixed in a liquid salt that acts as a coolant, which means that it will simply shut down and solidify in case of emergency. However, the low-enriched fluoride fuel salt is not yet commercially available, so Seaborg recently announced the initial power barges will be fuelled with low-enriched uranium (LEU).

In June, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Kepco Nuclear Fuel and GS Engineering & Construction to collaborate on investigating the feasibility of developing an LEU fuel salt production facility in South Korea.

In April 2022, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Seaborg signed a memorandum of understanding to manufacture and sell turnkey power plants combining SHI's ship-building expertise and Seaborg's CMSR. It also covered the development of hydrogen production plants and ammonia plants.

"In order to address the wide variety of challenges that Norwegian industry is confronted with in the transition to a low-carbon society, we also need a broad portfolio of energy technologies," said Norsk Kjernekraft CEO Jonny Hesthammer. "The technology of our Danish partners will play a significant role here, and there are numerous indications that Seaborg's technology will come sooner than many had imagined. Therefore, we are already considering how this technology can best be introduced in Norway."

"Norsk Kjernekraft is taking a leading role in the promotion and build-out of nuclear energy in Norway, and we are very excited to work with them," said Seaborg CEO Navid Samandari. "On top, we see new nuclear as a great addition to the Norwegian energy mix, supplementing hydro and other renewable sources in transforming the future of energy in Norway, setting a great Scandinavian example for newcomer countries to nuclear."

Last month, Norsk Kjernekraft signed a letter of intent with TVO Nuclear Services - a consulting company wholly owned by Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj - to jointly investigate the deployment of SMRs in Norway. The cooperation will also include the assessment of the suitability and effectiveness of the development of nuclear power in the Norwegian municipalities of Aure, Heim, Narvik and Vardø. The municipalities are working together with Norsk Kjernekraft to investigate the technical, financial and safety aspects of building one or more SMRs in their area, taking into account local conditions and input from the residents of the municipalities.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News