LDR-50 District Heating Reactor
Extensive amounts of energy is consumed in countries with cold winter climate for the heating of homes and commercial, industrial, and public buildings. A significant share of this heat is produced by burning fossil fuels, which must be phased out during the coming decades to meet the climate goals. Decarbonization of heat production is part of a comprehensive restructuring of the energy sector, without which it is impossible to build a sustainable future.
Low-carbon heating solutions of the 2030’s include renewable biofuels and electricity-powered heat pumps. The LDR-50 small modular reactor developed in Finland offers a third solution to the mix: nuclear energy. The reactor is designed to produce safe and reliable heat for small, medium-sized, and large cities, utilizing existing district heating networks.
Security of supply and small carbon footprint
Nuclear energy is well suited for centralized district heat production. Its characteristic features include low lifecycle emissions and remarkably high energy density of uranium fuel. A nuclear district heating plant can operate self-sufficiently for several years at a time, and the production is not affected by weather conditions or fluctuations in the cost of electricity. LDR-50 is also designed to be compatible with the Finnish nuclear waste final disposal solution.
Established technology and simplified solutions
LDR-50 is based on well-established light water reactor technology, which has been in large-scale commercial use for more than fifty years. Reactors based on similar technology are operated in more than 30 countries around the world. In contrast to conventional power reactors, a reactor designed specifically for district heating, however, can be operated at much lower temperature. This also enables utilizing simplified technical solutions.
Nuclear energy raises questions and concerns
Increasingly tightening climate goals and concerns related to security of supply have brought nuclear energy and small modular reactors to public debate. The discussion is accompanied by questions and concerns related to reactor safety and nuclear waste. This website provides information on the LDR-50 project, reactor technology, and the possibilities and challenges of nuclear energy in district heating. The content is updated as the project proceeds.