Under its latest business model, Norway’s Norsk Kjernekraft is looking to construct small modular reactors (SMRs) “off-grid” to support industry that needs reliable power, such as data centres, and access to heat, such as hydrogen production. “In this way industry is ensured reliable electricity and Norsk Kjernekraft is ensured good project economics while renewable power can be freed up for other purposes. A win-win for all parties.”

Norsk Kjernekraft says the energy debate in Norway “is far too focused on what is needed to reach the zero-emissions targets, and there are many [different] opinions about precisely this. The focus should be on how much power Norway can produce in a sustainable manner. Using renewables means power production is limited by how much land is available and how stable electricity can be delivered given weather-dependent sources.

“Sweden and Finland have a clear advantage in that they have decided to develop more nuclear power. Because nuclear power requires very little land, they can increase their power production and thus ensure continuous economic growth. They therefore gain a competitive advantage.” Compared with SMRs, wind turbines require 1,240 times more area and deliver 37% less electricity. In addition, the introduction of artificial intelligence makes current energy demand forecasts invalid “because the need for data processing and data storage, unlike everything else, is unlimited”.

Norsk Kjernekraft proposes a new business model for nuclear power in Norway: Small modular reactors can be built where the power is needed. When hydropower was developed, industry had to be established near those facilities. However, power production can now be located near industry. “Because nuclear power, like hydropower, lasts for 100 years (with two upgrades after 60 and 80 years respectively), it can do what hydropower did for Norway. After the power plants have been paid off, they can supply cheap electricity for a further 70-80 years. In addition to electricity, nuclear power produces a lot of high-temperature steam that can be used for heat-intensive industries.

Norsk Kjernekraft wants to build SMRs in connection with industrial areas where both electricity and heat can be used. SMRs can also be used as a redundant power supply – a far cheaper option than batteries. “Norsk Kjernekraft will build SMRs “off-grid” in connection with industry that needs reliable electricity and access to heat. “Norsk Kjernekraft can build 3-4 SMRs of 300 MWe to support a data centre. It will deliver 900-1200 MW of electricity (7.5-10 TWh a year) on an area equivalent to a couple or three football stadiums. It is enough to operate the data centre and, for example, a green electrolysis factory for hydrogen (where the heat can be utilised).”

In April, Norsk Kjernekraft launched an impact assessment for a site in the municipality of Oygarden in Vestland County as the possible location for a NPP comprising up to five SMRs. In 2023, the company signed agreements of intent to explore the feasibility of nuclear power with a number of municipalities. In June, it signed a letter of intent with TVO Nuclear Services (part of Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj) to jointly investigate the deployment of SMRs in Norway. This related to the possible development of nuclear power in the Norwegian municipalities of Aure, Heim, Narvik and Vardø.

In November 2023, it submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Oil & Energy to assess the construction of a SMR power plant in the municipalities of Aure and Heim and is preparing a similar report for Vardø municipality. Also in November, Norsk Kjernekraft, Østfold Energi and the municipality of Halden founded a new company, Halden Kjernekraft AS, to investigate the construction of a NPP based on SMRs at Halden, where a research reactor once operated.