Two out of three for Finland

April 21, 2010 | 00:00

Two out of three for Finland

Finnish leaders have made favourable decisions for two of the three nuclear projects put before them, meaning up to 4300 MWe in nuclear capacity could potentially come from private investment.

The lucky two were Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) and Fennovoima Oyj, while Fortum was disappointed with the choice and said its plan to expand Loviisa "would have been undeniably the best choice for the whole Finnish society."

Under Finnish law, government consideration and parliamentary ratification are required for a new nuclear reactor to ensure it is in society's overall interests. Minister of economic affairs Mauri Pekkarinen will submit the decision to parliament in early May and it is thought unlikely that parliament would go against the decision, which is meant to help climate change and energy independence goals. A separate renewables obligation outlined at the same time should radically boost their contribution to energy supplies to meet the EU target of 20% by 2020.

TVO quickly reacted with a positive statement: "The organization and everything else needed for the implementation of the project is already in place. Hence we can launch the construction process smoothly as a continuation of the Olkiluoto 3 project."

Olkiluoto 3 is the 1600 MWe pressurized water reactor under construction, alongside two 860 MWe boiling water reactors from 1979 and 1980. About four thousand workers are involved in the Olkiluoto 3 project, which was meant to begin operation in 2009 but is now expected in 2012.

The design Olkiluoto 4 is not yet decided, but will come in the range of 1000-1800 MWe. TVO said it will work to study design alternatives with vendors and the other firms that could be involved in the construction.

Fennovoima has two sites under consideration: Pyhäjoki and Simo, both in the north of the country and both noted by government to be positive towards nuclear development. A Fennovoima statement acknowledged the government move but did not elaborate on its next steps. The company has a total of 64 shareholders, led by EOn with 34%, and would like to develop nuclear capacity of 1500-2500 MWe.

The government said it was content with TVO's plans for radioactive waste management, centred around a used nuclear fuel repository at Olkiluoto to be built and operated by Posiva, which TVO and Fortum jointly own. Currently outside of this arrangement, Fennovoima is required to develop and present a strategy for its used nuclear fuel to the Ministry of Employment and Economy within six years of ratification of its decision-in-principle.

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