The municipality of Pyhäjoki on Finland's western coast has been selected by Fennovoima as the site of the country's third nuclear power plant. Site preparations for the plant could start by the end of 2012.
|How the Hanhikivi peninsula could look if an EPR is built there (Image: Fennovoima)
A consortium of Finnish industrial and energy companies announced in June 2007 the establishment of the joint venture company Fennovoima Oy to construct a new nuclear power plant in Finland. Within a couple of months, almost 40 sites had been proposed as candidates to house the plant. However, by December 2009, after conducting a series of assessments, the number of sites under consideration had been narrowed to just two: Pyhäjoki and Simo, both on Finland's western coast. Both sites are located in government-defined development areas. The environmental impact assessment report for Fennovoima's project found no problems at either site.
Fennovoima said, "In the final site decision, safety, technical feasibility, environmental matters, construction costs and schedule were the main factors examined, as well as the ability of the site region to support a project that will bring thousands of people to work and use services there." It added, "Hundreds of details were assessed within these key factors."
These assessments concluded that both Pyhäjoki and Simo "are feasible for accommodating a nuclear power plant and that the plant can be implemented safely and in an environmentally feasible manner on both sites."
However, Fennovoima said that Pyhäjoki - in North Ostrobothnia - was selected as the preferred site "on the basis of an overall consideration assessing the site as a whole." The nuclear power plant will be built on the Hanhikivi peninsula on the coast of Bothnian Bay. The company noted, "Due to technical benefits it is more feasible to construct a nuclear power plant at Pyhäjoki. Assessments show that the bedrock in Pyhäjoki is more solid. This means that operations like excavation works are easier to carry out." In addition, seismic design values for Pyhäjoki were lower than in Simo, which "has an impact on the design of the structures, systems and equipment of the plant." Tunnels for cooling water also need to be about one kilometre shorter at Pyhäjoki. Fennovoima also noted that fewer permanent residents and summer houses near the Pyhäjoki site means that construction "will cause less disturbance for the neighbourhood."
Fennovoima will now work towards gaining various licences and permits, as well as conducting further site characterization studies. The company was granted a decision-in-principle by the Finnish government for the plant in May 2010, ratified by parliament two months later. Fennovoima said that preparatory works at Pyhäjoki will begin in late 2012 at the earliest. The plant is expected to begin operating around 2020, although Fennovoima said, "The construction schedule will be elaborated after the plant supplier has been selected."
Fennovoima has shortlisted two alternatives for the plant design: Areva's EPR, an advanced pressurized water reactor rated about 1700 MWe; and Toshiba's ABWR advanced boiling water reactor rated about 1600 MWe. In July 2011, Fennovoima invited Areva and Toshiba to bid for the delivery and construction of reactor and turbine islands for a new nuclear power plant in Finland. It expects to select the plant design in 2012-2013.
Fennovoima is a project company primarily owned by industrial power consumers and resellers, in line with the 'Finnish model' for financing nuclear power plant projects. While EOn has a major stake of 34%, the rest is held by Voimaosakeyhtiö SF which counts 69 organisations as its shareholders.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News