Fermi Energia selected Deep Isolation as reference solution for spent fuel disposal

Press Release, February 7, 2024

Fermi Energia selected Deep Isolation as reference solution for spent fuel disposal

Deep Isolation and Fermi logos

Tallinn, Estonia, 7 February 2024 – an Estonian company pioneering the use of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology to support energy security and a net-zero energy market for Estonia, today announced that it has selected Deep Isolation’s technology as its solution for storage and disposal of SMR spent fuel. The two companies today have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly drive forward the development of SMRs in Estonia supported by a safe and scalable solution for the resulting spent fuel.

Under this MOU, Fermi Energia and Deep Isolation will mutually collaborate and exchange critical information for the use of Deep Isolation’s Universal Canister System (UCS) and patented directional drilling solution for deep borehole disposal for isolation and management of spent fuel.

Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia, said, “Fermi Energia’s reference solution for spent fuel disposal, subject to licensing approval by relevant regulators, is provided by Deep Isolation. The solution includes packaging our SMR spent fuel in the Universal Canister System and then emplacing it in a deep borehole repository. Two commercial imperatives drive this choice:

  • Alternative options, such as the mined facilities being implemented in Finland and Sweden, are likely to be too expensive to be viable for Estonia’s small volume of SMR fuel and Estonia’s sedimentary rock geology in the upper layers where such a facility can be constructed.
  • Before we can invest in new nuclear power as part of Estonia’s net zero strategy, the country is required by the EU to establish a detailed, documented plan to have in operation by 2050 a disposal facility for the resulting spent fuel.  We do not see any other disposal technology able to meet the required speed of deployment for Estonia.”

Chris Parker, Managing Director of Deep Isolation’s European business, remarked, “As Estonia moves towards implementing advanced nuclear power generation to deliver a low-carbon future for the country, it is vital that citizens, policymakers and regulators are confident there is a safe and affordable way to dispose of the resulting spent nuclear fuel. That is why we are delighted to have been selected by Fermi Energia.” 

Kalev Kallemets added: “I also see an important geopolitical strategic imperative.  Fermi Energia has selected a US SMR – GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 – as our technology for delivering small, modular power production. I see great benefit in also working with a US company to deliver small, modular disposal of the resulting spent fuel. As Estonia embarks on its nuclear journey, we are conscious that we are entering a 100-year plus relationship with the countries that provide us with technology support – and I welcome the chance to do this in partnership and shared values with the United States.”

Liz Muller, CEO of Deep Isolation, said: “I welcome Estonia’s commitment to establishing a solution for safe, scalable disposal of its spent fuel right at the outset of its nuclear journey.  Borehole disposal makes this possible, and is the key that is unlocking new nuclear investments for Estonia and other countries globally as we move towards a nuclear-powered, net-zero future.”

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:

Deep Isolation, Inc.
2001 Addison St., Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704

About Deep Isolation:
Deep Isolation is a leading global innovator in nuclear waste storage and disposal solutions. Driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and scientific ingenuity, the company’s patented solution of advanced nuclear technologies enables global delivery through its partnerships with industry leaders as well as flexible IP licensing options.

About Fermi Energia:
Fermi Energia is investing to support energy security and a net-zero energy market in Estonia through development of a Small Modular Reactor. Since 2019, Fermi Energia has conducted a series of research and preliminary works, with the aim to start energy production in 2035. These include pre-implementation studies with Deep Isolation, to confirm the compatibility of Deep Isolation’s technology with Estonia’s geology and to evaluate the economics of deploying their technology in the context of either an open or closed fuel cycle. 

About the EU Taxonomy Regulations:
These regulations, coming into force on 1 January 2023, enable nuclear power investments to be funded as part of the EU’s climate change mitigation strategy provided that they fulfill a set of technical screening criteria to ensure they are aligned with the EU’s other environmental protection objectives. Criterion 1 (f) is that the project must be is located in a Member State which “has a documented plan with detailed steps to have in operation, by 2050, a disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste describing all of the following: (i) concepts or plans and technical solutions for spent fuel and radioactive waste management from generation to disposal; (ii) concepts or plans for the post-closure period of a disposal facility’s lifetime, including the period during which appropriate controls are retained and the means to be employed to preserve knowledge of that facility in the longer term; (iii) the responsibilities for the plan implementation and the key performance indicators to monitor its progress; (iv) cost assessments and financing schemes.”