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Nuclear Energy

Northern Light: Next-Gen Nuclear Reactors Draw Interest In Sweden

Tomas Kellner
March 23, 2022

Ever since last December, when Canada’s Ontario Power Generation selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to build the first grid-scale small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) and bring it online by the end of the decade, the technology has been in the news. The latest country interested in the technology is Sweden.

Kärnfull Next, the first project development company to focus on SMRs in Scandinavia, said it signed a memorandum of understanding with GE Hitachi for its BWRX-300 design. “We’ve chosen our partners carefully to build a reliable supply chain that will allow us to deliver more affordable and timely fossil-free electricity during generation,” says Kärnfull co-founder John Ahlberg.

An SMR is defined as a reactor that produces up to 300 megawatts. The small reactors, which can be deployed faster than conventional ones and at a lower cost per unit of output, produce carbon-free electricity during generation.

The BWRX-300 SMR design (artist's rendering, top) is based on boiling-water reactor technologies that power many existing nuclear power plants. “The pieces themselves already exist; they are basically building blocks that have been pre-designed,” says Christer Dahlgren, the principal designer of the BWRX-300. “You are not building them in the field. They are coming to the site already built and pre-tested.”

Jon Ball, executive vice president for GE Hitachi, said that Sweden had “significant experience with nuclear energy, and especially boiling-water reactor technology. As industry and investors join forces to help accelerate the energy transition, global interest in the BWRX-300 is rapidly growing and we are excited to be working with Kärnfull to bring this technology to Sweden.”

The technology can not only help Sweden decarbonize, but also “deliver inertia and other stability services to the national grid,” according to Kärnfull co-founder Christian Sjölander.

Across the Baltic Sea, the GE Hitachi technology has drawn interest from operators in Poland and Estonia. Poland’s Synthos Green Energy (SGE) announced plans to cooperate in deploying at least 10 of GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMRs in the country by the early 2030s.

In the U.S., the Tennessee Valley Authority, a power utility that covers a large part of the eastern U.S., established a new program in January to explore advanced nuclear technology to help it reach its decarbonization goals. Its New Nuclear Program aims to provide up to $200 million to “examine advanced reactor technology options for potential, future deployment” at its Clinch River site in Tennessee and “other potential site locations in anticipation of future TVA system needs.” Specifically, TVA is looking at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 design.


Image credit: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy