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2 minutes read

Construction of Finnish SMR pilot plant to start in 2025

The pilot plant will serve as a full-scale, operational model of the Finnish-designed Small Modular Reactor (SMR). Unlike the actual power plant, the pilot unit will use an electrical element to generate heat inside the reactor capsule instead of nuclear fuel. Its main purpose is to test operational features and to establish the necessary supply chains with various manufacturers for the construction of actual plants.

The pilot investment is estimated at approximately EUR15-20 million (USD16-22 million). Steady Energy said final evaluations of potential sites are underway, with a decision expected by the end of the summer. Detailed design and tendering for construction will then commence. After the testing phase, the facility will be used for education and research.

Currently, the proposed locations for the pilot plant include Salmisaari caves in central Helsinki; Huuhanmäki caves in Kuopio, the regional capital of North Savo in eastern Finland; and the Kymijärvi and Teivaanmäki power plant sites in Lahti, a regional capital in southern Finland.

Steady Energy – which was spun off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in May 2023 – expects construction of the first operational LDR-50 district heating plant to begin by 2028, with the first unit expected to be operational by 2030.

Last December, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Kuopion Energia, a municipal energy company in eastern Finland, which includes an option to build up to five district heating reactors from 2030. This agreement followed a letter of intent signed in October between Steady Energy and Helsinki utility Helen for the construction of up to 10 SMRs for district heating.

In Finland, more than half of the energy used for heating comes from district heating, which is mostly produced from fossil fuels, peat and biomass. Utilities are looking for ways to quickly transition from combustion-based heat production to new and innovative low-emission alternatives.

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