Nordic power company Fortum and stainless-steel producer Outokumpu have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the decarbonisation of Outokumpu’s steel manufacturing operations using emerging nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors (SMRs).

Fortum President & CEO Markus Rauramo says decarbonising heavy industries “is a prerequisite for reaching carbon-neutrality in the Europe and this requires significant amounts of clean energy”. He adds: “The Nordic market is extremely competitive when it comes to clean and affordable power, and Fortum is one of the very few European companies that can deliver it reliably, when needed and at scale to our customers already today. In the future, however, more will be needed.”

The agreement initiates a long-term process seeking to assess potential construction of SMRs in Finland. One possible option for the location would be Tornio region in Finland, where Outokumpu’s largest mill is situated. Initially, the goal is to identify potential business models and technical solutions for further development. Any potential investment decisions will be made at a later stage.

The MOU is part of Fortum’s two-year Nuclear Feasibility Study launched in November 2022. The study looks to explore commercial, technological, societal, political, legal, and regulatory conditions for both SMRs and conventional large reactors in Finland and Sweden. It also is investigating new partnerships and business models. In addition to Outokumpu, Fortum has in place cooperation agreements with UK-based Rolls-Royce SMR, France’s EDF, Sweden’s Kärnfull Next and Finland’s Helen.

“Looking into emerging technologies in our energy supply, is a natural step in our ambition to reduce CO2 -emissions,” says Heikki Malinen, President & CEO of Outokumpu. “In addition to wind, solar, and hydropower, energy intensive industries and the whole society needs stable and CO2-free electricity generation. Today nuclear power is the only alternative for this.”

Image: Outokumpu’s steel manufacturing plant near Tornio, Finland (courtesy of Outokumpu)