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London Tech Week

Steady Energy secures €2M for world’s first nuclear-powered heating plant in Finland

Steady Energy founders
Picture credits: Steady Energy

Nearly 50% of all energy consumed by EU households goes toward heating homes. European annual district heat consumption is approximately 500 TWh, out of which about 300 TWh is produced by fossil fuels. Decarbonising residential heating in Europe alone is a market with significant growth potential in the hundreds of billions of euros. Throughout Europe, there are nearly 3,500 district heating networks, serving 60 million people, largely powered by fossil fuels. Successful, large-scale decarbonisation of district heating can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Finnish startup Steady Energy, a spin-out from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, aims to decarbonise the energy-intensive heating industry starting with residential and district heating. It plans its business models according to the needs of the customer and delivers heating plants directly to customers. 

Closes €2M seed funding 

Steady Energy just closed a seed funding round by raising €2 million. The investment round was led by VTT, Yes VC, and Lifeline Ventures, which has backed Hyperion Robotics and Oura. The company will use the raised funding for research and development work to demonstrate the functionality of the world’s first LDR-50 reactor-based heating plant. 

“The pressure required by the LDR-50 reactor is comparable to the pressure that of a household espresso machine. It operates at a lower pressure than a district heating network. This ensures that in case of a malfunction which leads to a leak, the leak is contained within the heating plant, without endangering people or the environment,” said Tommi Nyman, CEO of Steady Energy.

“Nuclear power know-how, national energy policy and the world’s leading district heating network provide the world’s best starting point for Steady Energy to start its business specifically in Finland,” added Timo Ahopelto, Founding Partner at Lifeline Ventures.

“Europe and the United States have woken up to the fact that small reactors will become part of energy production already during this decade. We are talking about a very significant market globally”, said Jyri Engeström, Founder and Partner at Yes VC.

“At VTT, we’ve been turning hope into action for 80 years by driving scientific innovation to change the world and businesses for the better. Right now, humanity is facing its most challenging adversary, climate change. We are on a journey to explore tomorrow’s technologies and innovate cutting-edge solutions to build the carbon-neutral societies of the future. Steady Energy represents our commitment to our purpose and embodies the hope we want to bring to the world,” added Jussi Manninen, Executive Vice President of VTT.

Builds world’s first nuclear-powered heating plant

Steady Energy, founded by Tommi Nyman and Hannes Haapalahti, is building a heating plant powered by a small nuclear reactor, designed to produce heat efficiently, safely, and carbon-neutrally, at considerably lower temperature and pressure than traditional nuclear reactors. It will complete building the world’s first LDR-50 reactor-based heating plant by 2030. 

The LDR-50 district heating reactor is a small modular nuclear reactor that has been in development at VTT since 2020. LDR-50 is a type name for a reactor with a heat output of 50MW. Designed to operate at around 150 degrees Celsius and below 10 bar (145 psi), its operating conditions are less demanding compared to those of traditional reactors, simplifying the technical solutions needed to meet the high safety standards of the nuclear industry.

The LDR-50 reactor module is made of two nested pressure vessels, with their intermediate space partially filled with water. When heat removal through the primary heat exchangers is compromised, water in the intermediate space begins to boil, forming an efficient passive heat transfer route into the reactor pool. The system does not rely on electricity or any mechanical moving parts, which could fail and prevent the cooling function. 

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