The potential role of Small Modular Reactors trigeneration: Oulu region case study.

SMR Trigeneration

The goal of the project is to assess the potential role of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in district heating for the Oulu region. More specifically, this study intends to estimate their sustainability, modelling their future potential contribution taking full advantage of their trigeneration capability: the possible role in district heat production, power production, and hydrogen production.


AI generated image of an SMR in a Finnish winter context

Project information

Project duration


Project funder

Oulun Energia

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

Project description

The rapid transition toward an energy system fit for the challenges dictated by climate change requires both efficiency and a CO2-free production technology. More specifically, looking at the Northern regions, one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases emissions are associated to the highly efficient combined heat and power for district heating. At the same time, the challenges associated to the replacement for a low emitting solution are compounded by the increasing penetration of VRES, requiring flexibility and resilience from the underlying infrastructure.

These factors should be taken into consideration within the more comprehensive European Union cost-effective decarbonization strategy, which includes the production and multiple utilization of Hydrogen both in industry and as complementary energy vector.

This study wants to consider the combined effects of these elements while exploring the potential role SMRs could have in addressing these challenges. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) defines SMRs as reactors with a power capacity lower than 300 MW(e). Designed to be smaller (i.e. safer and more flexible) and modular (i.e. factory assembles), SMRs are therefore expected to be cheaper and more versatile, allowing for a direct utilization of their thermal output for district heating as well as for hydrogen production. Furthermore, their co-generation capability, associated to their expected more flexible power output, are potentially better suited to function as balancing power solution for the planned large increase in wind power capability in the Oulu region within the next 10-20 years.