IFE decides to close the Halden Reactor, but continues nuclear research activities
In conjunction with the license renewal process for the Halden Reactor, IFE has over the last year carried out a strategic review of reactor operations, including a financial and operational risk assessment. Based on this review, IFE’s Board concluded that operation of the reactor beyond the current license period is not viable, as this would imply business risks in excess of what IFE is capable of handling on its own. The reactor is currently shut down due to a safety valve failure and will not be restarted.
Operation of the Halden Reactor has for several years become increasingly challenging for IFE. IFE has over the past seven years lost over 18 m€ on its nuclear operation, mainly due to the market situation of the Halden reactor. In 2018, IFE has been dependent on extraordinary funding from the Norwegian government.
" Based on a comprehensive strategic review, IFE's Board has concluded that IFE will not apply for a new operating licence after 2020 and that the Halden reactor will not be restarted. IFE cannot rely on governmental funding. Being a self owning foundation, IFE is not able to handle the financial risk of operating the reactor", says Olav Fjell, Chairman of the Board of IFE.
The Boards decision
“The Government contributes funding nuclear waste management and decommissioning, but any further operation of the Halden Reactor will be IFE's responsibility and IFE cannot rely on governmental support for this. IFE does not have the capacity to carry the financial risk of continued operation of the Halden Reactor.
The Board therefore concluded not to apply for new operating license when the current will expire in 2020. The Board also decided to not resume operations of the Halden Reactor.“
The Board’s decision was taken against the employees’ representatives votes. The closure of the Halden reactor will not affect IFE's other activities. IFE is one of Norway’s leading research institutes, conducting R&D at an international level within energy, life science and digitalization. IFE has approx. 650 employees, of which 130 employees work in relation to the Halden reactor.
A strong and proud history
The Halden Reactor is by many countries regarded as a strategic asset for testing fuel and reactor components, vital to improve nuclear safety. Research activities have been carried out since 1958 under the framework of the Halden Project, under the auspice of OECD/NEA. IFE and the Norwegian state remain strongly committed to the Halden Project even though reactor operations discontinue, and will work to develop a revised research program along with OECD/NEA and the members.
"The Halden Project has been the backbone of IFE's operations in Halden since 1958, and has established itself as an international benchmark in nuclear safety research. IFE has built up a significant research database through 60 years of operation and our personnel have long experience and deep knowledge in the field of nuclear research. Even though the Halden Reactor is being closed down, we can continue to exploit this knowledge through other areas of research. We are determined to continue our nuclear research activities to the best for our customers and employees", says Nils Morten Huseby, CEO of IFE.
IFE is not planning any personnel reductions in conjunction with the reactor closure. The Norwegian Government has provided IFE with funding to maintain the staff's critical competence. In addition to continue nuclear research activities, it is envisaged that IFE's personnel will transition into new roles related to decommissioning of the reactor and nuclear waste management.
Nils Morten Huseby, CEO, phone + 47 905 44 545
Silje Aspholm Hole, Head of Communication, phone +47 930 22 096
ABOUT IFE – Institute for Energy Technology
IFE was founded by the Norwegian State in 1948 and is today an independent research foundation. Annual turnover is approx. NOK 1 billion. R&D in energy, renewable energy, digital systems and radio pharmacy accounts for 2/3 of IFE's activities, and nuclear research activities account for 1/3. The number of employees is approx. 650. IFE is located at Kjeller and in Halden.
IFE is an international research foundation for energy and nuclear technology. IFE is a non-profit foundation with main purpose to conduct research and development in the energy sector, digital systems and radio pharmacy, as well as carry out nuclear technology tasks for Norway.
IFE's main tasks are to:
• Develop profitable, safe and environmentally friendly technologies in energy, energy systems, digital systems and CO2 handling.
• Safeguard and further develop production, R&D, control and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals in Norway and internationally.
• Maintain and further develop national expertise in reactor safety, radiation protection and nuclear technology.
• Conduct basic research in physics based on the JEEP II reactor at Kjeller.
• Manage the Halden Project, which is OECD's largest and longest ongoing collaborative project on reactor safety.
About the Halden Reactor
The Halden Reactor is a 25MW nuclear reactor located in Halden, Norway and dedicated for research. The reactor became operative in 1959, and is a Boiling water reactor (BWR) moderated by heavy water. The reactor is used for safety-focused research into materials, fuel burn-up, and fuel behavior in prolonged operating conditions in co-operation in the Halden Project.
The Halden Project is a joint undertaking of national organizations in 20 countries sponsoring a jointly financed program under the auspices of the OECD/NEA - Nuclear Energy Agency. The programs are to generate key information for safety and licensing assessments.