Study to consider SMR deployment at Halden

10 November 2023

A new company, Halden Kjernekraft AS, has been founded by Norsk Kjernekraft, Østfold Energi and the municipality of Halden to investigate the construction of a nuclear power plant based on small modular reactors (SMRs) at Halden. A research reactor once operated in Halden, in Norway.

Halden (Image: Halden municipality)

Halden Kjernekraft - 20% owned by Halden municipality with Norsk Kjernekraft and Østfold Energi owning 40% each - will initially carry out investigations and surveys "as a decision-making basis for any next step", the partners said.

The initiative to investigate the deployment of SMRs at Halden came from the municipality itself, which has more than 60 years of experience of hosting the Institute for Energy Technology's (IFE's) nuclear fuel and materials testing reactor. It was declared permanently shut down by IFE in June 2018.

The decision to found Halden Kjernekraft was made by the Halden municipal council on 9 November.

The partners noted there is currently a power deficit in the Oslo, Akershus and Østfold region of 16 TWh. In addition, Norwegian grid operator Statnett has warned that there is no available capacity for new, larger consumption without new production and increased network capacity into eastern Norway. This is not expected until 2035 under current plans and has major consequences for Østfold.

"The time is ripe to investigate whether small modular reactors can be part of the solution to the power shortage in Østfold," said Roar Vevelstad, municipal director in Halden municipality. "We must explore all possibilities and not be afraid of knowledge."

"The municipality has long experience as a host for nuclear reactors and has solid expertise to make good decisions," added Norsk Kjernekraft CEO Jonny Hesthammer. "The citizens are well used to nuclear reactor operations, and see that it contributes to creating long-term jobs. It forms a very good starting point for a collaboration, where we thoroughly investigate whether nuclear power can contribute to solving the municipality's future power needs."

"We are happy about the positive decision from Halden municipality," said Martin Vatne, director of strategy and business development at Østfold Energi. "Now we want to investigate and acquire more knowledge in the first instance. This is not an alternative to renewable energy, but it can be a supplement in the longer term. Modern nuclear power has advantages related to area, controllability and production hours, but is still controversial. There are many questions that need to be answered well. That is why we now want to put this on the agenda."

Norsk Kjernekraft aims to build, own and operate SMR power plants in Norway in collaboration with power-intensive industry. It says it will prepare licence 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.

The company entered into an agreement of intent earlier this year on the investigation of nuclear power with several municipalities.

Last week, Norsk Kjernekraft submitted a proposal to Norway's Ministry of Oil and Energy for an assessment into the construction of a power plant based on multiple SMRs in the municipalities of Aure and Heim.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News