Finnish firms plan to heat cities with little reactors by 2030

A few SMRs will be able to heat an entire Finnish city. This one is Helsinki  (Tapio Haaja/Unsplash)
Finnish nuclear start-up Steady Energy aims to start work on its first small modular reactor (SMR) pilot next year, financial news service Morningstar reports

The €20m pilot will serve as a full-scale model of the Finnish-designed, light-water LDR-50 district heating reactor, but with an electric element rather than nuclear fuel.

After the testing phase, the company aims to start building the real thing by 2028 with a view to it becoming operational in 2030.

The LDR-50 has a thermal output of 50MW. A few units the size of a shipping container can heat a medium-sized city.

Steady Energy has already signed letters of intent for the delivery of up to 15 reactors with Helen, the utility supplying Helsinki, and Kuopio Energy, which serves Eastern Finland.

Now, the company is considering potential sites for the non-nuclear pilot.

It may be in the Salmisaari caves in Helsinki, the Huuhanmäki caves in Kuopio, or an industrial site in the south of the country.

A decision will be made by the end of the summer.

Sizeable backers

Founded last year, Steady Energy has raised around €15m of investment.

Backers include the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Lifeline Ventures, Yes VC, and the Aphorism Foundation, the investment fund of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

Tommi Nyman, the company’s chief executive, said the SMR plant would be a move towards a carbon-neutral future for Finland.

He said: “Our emission targets are transitioning from mere plans to practical actions. These actions will also soon result in cleaner air in our cities.”

He added: “Heating a large city can require a log pile the size of a football field each day. Replacing this with a small, emission-free nuclear power plant that can be installed underground will eliminate the endless lines of fuel trucks and radically reduce local air pollution.”

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