TVO agrees loan for Olkiluoto safety upgrades

18 December 2018

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) has signed a ten-year EUR65 million (USD74 million) loan agreement with the Nordic Investment Bank to finance safety system upgrades at units 1 and 2 of its Olkiluoto nuclear power plant.

Olkiluoto units 1, 2 and 3 (Image: TVO)

The main part of the upgrade project - the total cost of which is some EUR200 million - will be the replacement of the existing eight emergency diesel generators with nine new ones. The current generators are the original units, which have been in operation for almost 40 years.

The project also includes the replacement of the reactor recirculation pumps and their frequency converters, as well as the installation in the reactors of a steam-driven coolant injection system that is not dependent on external power supply.

"Having top-quality safety systems in the nuclear plants benefits the entire member region of the Bank," said Henrik Normann, president and CEO of the Nordic Investment Bank. "This project will bring increased reliability and efficiency of electricity supply to Finland."

The bank noted that Olkiluoto 1 and 2 "are the most significant electricity production units in Finland, and their smooth operation is important for the security of supply of wider NordPool power markets".

The Nordic Investment Bank is an international financial institution owned by eight member countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. The bank finances private and public projects in and outside the member countries.

In September, the Finnish government approved a 20-year extension to the operating licences of the units. The new licence replaced TVO's current operating licences, issued in 1998, which were valid until the end of this year. The two units - both 890 MWe boiling water reactors - are now permitted to operate until the end of 2038.

Olkiluoto units 1 and 2 - which began operating in 1979 and 1982, respectively - currently meet one-sixth of Finland's electricity demand. Once the EPR under construction as Olkiluoto unit 3 begins power generation, now expected in January 2020, the plant will account for about 30%.

TVO announced today that the first 34 operator trainees for the Olkiluoto EPR had been granted operator licences by Finland's radiation and nuclear safety authority. The education for candidates started as far back as 2005, it noted.

The trainees will continue practicing operating the reactor on a simulator until June 2019 when fuel will be loaded into Olkiluoto 3 and they will start operating the actual unit. TVO said that a minimum of 21 operators will be required to provide full cover for the main control room shifts once the EPR is in operation.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News