Sweden’s Vattenfall on 31 May signed an agreement with Estonian nuclear energy start-up company Fermi Energia in order to become a minority shareholder of the company with a seed investment of Euro €1 million ($1.2m).

In November 2020, Vattenfall extended its ongoing cooperation with Fermi Energia by signing a Letter of Intent to explore the possibilities for small modular reactor (SMR) deployment in Estonia. Vattenfall has now accepted the opportunity to become a minority shareholder of approximately 6% ownership.

“With this minority investment, Vattenfall can contribute our know-how and work jointly on feasibility studies about costing, supply chain and capabilities to construct and operate small modular reactor technology, said Vattenfall Senior Vice President Generation Torbjörn Wahlborg. “Innovative and fossil free future nuclear generation such as SMRs seems very promising for Estonia that has the highest average CO2 emissions per generated kWh of electricity among all EU member states.”

The extended collaboration will further explore the maturity of SMR technology and the prospects for deployment of one or several such reactors in Estonia by 2035. The initiative also involves other European energy companies. All participants gain practical SMR technology insights and contribute their own experience, Vattenfall noted.

“Fermi Energia considers true decarbonisation of Estonian economy impossible without reliable, affordable low carbon power supply from nuclear energy. For Estonia, only small modular reactors as currently developed in the US, Canada and UK are suitable,” said Fermi Energia CEO Kalev Kallemets. “The excellent safety record of multiple nuclear power plants by Vattenfall and its mission of ‘fossil free living within one generation’ proves that Vattenfall is the right partner for us to move forward with SMR deployment.”

He noted: “Thanks to Vattenfall's investment, we can increase the team and develop competencies, continue to inform the public about nuclear energy, conduct training programs and research to support the Estonian government in reaching a knowledge-based decision to introduce nuclear energy. Over the coming years, we will, together with Vattenfall, execute several studies on SMR deployment, site visits and training courses that bring real value to both Estonia and Sweden.”

Under the November 2020 Letter-of-Intent, Vattenfall is studying the potential for the deployment of SMRs in Estonia, especially addressing costing and constructability aspects, supply chain, operations/personnel/maintenance, and newbuild financing structure.

“With an investment, Vattenfall will further broaden and strengthen the relationship with Fermi Energia. Vattenfall sees potential in Fermi Energia’s business model and the company’s prospects to succeed with its 2026 objective to submit an application of Decision in Principle for the deployment of SMR technology in Estonia,” said Wahlborg.