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Nuclear power plant proposed for north-eastern Norway

Norsk Kjernekraft has submitted a proposal to Norway’s Ministry of Energy for an assessment into the construction of a power plant based on multiple small modular reactors (SMRs) in the county of Finnmark. The company said it marks the first step in the formal process to establish a nuclear power plant there.

In April last year, the municipality of Vardø in Finnmark proposed nearby Svartnes as a possible site for a nuclear power plant to Norsk Kjernekraft, which aims to build, own and operate SMR power plants in Norway in collaboration with power-intensive industry. Vardø municipality and Norsk Kjernekraft entered into an agreement to prepare a report with proposals for a study programme in June 2023.

In collaboration with Vardø, Norsk Kjernekraft has mapped the energy situation in Finnmark, and considered the local conditions at Svartnes. Based on this, a nuclear power plant is proposed with a capacity of up to 600 MWe and an annual output of up to 5 TWh – “enough to triple the power supply in Finnmark”.

Norsk Kjernekraft said the report it has now submitted to the Ministry of Energy “describes local conditions for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant at Svartnes outside Vardø, and which topics will be described in a future impact assessment. The available information suggests that the location is suitable for the purpose.”

The scope of the proposed study programme is limited to assessing what effects construction, operation and decommissioning of the power plant can have for society and the environment. Once the proposal has been approved by the ministry, an environmental impact assessment can start.

The report says Vardø is an urban community with “a good public service offer and varied working life”, and that it is therefore possible to attract the high number of employees necessary for construction and operation of the plant. Other advantages at Vardø are that there are already power lines and a substation where, combined with good road connections, ports, large areas available for both the power plant and power-intensive industry, ample access to cooling water, stable ground conditions and local political support for nuclear power. “In addition, a nuclear power plant in the far east of the country will emphasise Norway’s willingness to assert sovereignty,” it adds.

Norsk Kjernekraft notes that, due to limited network capacity in Vardø, it will consider alternative locations in Finnmark before the impact assessment begins.

The report says that electricity is currently generated in Finnmark using hydro plants and wind turbines. “In periods of low wind, Finnmark is dependent on supply of power from other parts of Norway and from Finland,” it says. “The nuclear power plant will produce electricity completely independently of the weather, thereby providing a significant improvement in the reliability of the power supply throughout north Scandinavia, as well as helping to cover the expected power demand.”

“The purpose of this notice is to inform the relevant authorities and other stakeholders that the construction of a nuclear power plant in Vardø is considered, and to invite other municipalities to report their interest in investigating alternative locations in their municipalities,” Norsk Kjernekraft said.

The company said it intends to utilise a significant part of the excess heat from the plant “as an input factor for industrial companies, food production, district heating and others”. It said the power plant can enable the establishment of local industry, for example within data centres, hydrogen production, mineral extraction, green shipping and food production.

Norsk Kjernekraft CEO Jonny Hesthammer commented: “A nuclear power plant in Vardø will give Finnmark access to large amounts of stable power, create hundreds of jobs and provide light in the houses in a strategically important part of our country. In addition, it will help assert Norwegian sovereignty and ensure Norwegian presence. This report will be an important part of the knowledge base for the government’s announced investigation into nuclear power in Norway.”

“This is a right and important step to meet future energy needs,” added Vardø mayor Tor-Erik Labahå. “A nuclear power plant in Vardø will build the community in the far north-east of Norway, and it will be able to supply new industry in the entire Eastern Finnmark region.”

In November, Norsk Kjernekraft submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Energy for an assessment into the construction of an SMR power plant based in the municipalities of Aure and Heim in south-western Norway. In April this year, it initiated work on the impact assessment of a plot of land in Øygarden municipality, west of Bergen, to assess the possibility of establishing a nuclear power plant comprising up to five SMRs.

A new company, Halden Kjernekraft AS, has also been founded by Norsk Kjernekraft, Østfold Energi and the municipality of Halden to investigate the construction of a nuclear power plant based on SMRs at Halden, where a research reactor once operated.

Source: World Nuclear News