Fortum, which owns and operates the Loviisa nuclear power station in Finland, said that through the modelling work and the analysis of results, “we hope the project will generate greater understanding of SMR projects and characteristics”.
Current SMR designs feature innovations in manufacturing, siting and construction. Gaining a more in-depth understanding of these features and determining which are the most important will be critical in ensuring the feasibility and success of SMR projects, Fortum said.
Fortum said MIT has done extensive work in identifying the cost drivers of new nuclear. “This is a great opportunity for our nuclear experts at Fortum and the researchers at MIT to learn from one another,” said Konsta Värri, project manager at Fortum. “We hope the open source modelling tool will drive the nuclear sector a step closer to making SMRs a reality.”
Fortum said SMRs have the potential to reduce the risk of cost overruns by using smaller and simpler designs. However, reducing risk alone is not enough. SMRs must also be competitive enough to meet market demands. MIT said that as part of the project it is hoping to “explore this relationship between risk and cost”.
In January Fermi Energia of Estonia signed agreements with Fortum and Belgian engineering company Tractebel to cooperate on a study into the potential of SMRs. Vattenfall of Sweden later signed up to the same agreements. The companies said in a joint statement at the time that the Fermi Energia SMR project was “the leading SMR deployment project in the EU”.