TVO seeks to delay Olkiluoto 4 project

21 May 2014

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) has requested a five-year extension to the government's decision in principle to construct a fourth reactor at the Olkiluoto plant. The request stems from delays in building the third unit there.

Under Finnish law, government consideration and parliamentary ratification are required for a new nuclear reactor to ensure it is in society's overall interests. TVO applied for a government decision in principle in 2008 to construct a 1000-1800 MWe pressurized water reactor or boiling water reactor as the fourth unit at Olkiluoto. The government made a favourable decision for the reactor in May 2010. The parliament's ratification for that decision in principle was given the following month. That decision was valid for five years, during which time TVO must submit a construction licence application for the new reactor.

"Our estimate is that the start of electricity production of Olkiluoto 4 would take place during the latter half of the 2020s."

Jarmo Tanhua

The company has now sent a request to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy asking for the government's decision in principle for Olkiluoto 4 to be extended by five years. This would mean that TVO will have to submit its construction licence application by the end of June 2020.

TVO said that delays in the start-up of unit 3 at Olkiluoto - the first of a kind EPR - prompted its request. It said, "In this situation, the company considers it impossible to make significant Olkiluoto 4 related decisions necessary for the construction licence application within the current period of validity of the decision in principle."

TVO CEO Jarmo Tanhua noted, "Building a new nuclear power plant unit has a great significance for society and means investment of billions of euros in Finland. Decisions on such an investment need to be timed the most appropriate way considering the production capacity as well as the other operational environment." He added, "Our estimate is that the start of electricity production of Olkiluoto 4 would take place during the latter half of the 2020s."

Finnish economy minister Jan Vapaavuori said that the government would have to assess whether the project was still in the public interest. If the government agreed an extension to its decision in principle, the parliament would then be required to ratify it again.

In March 2012, TVO invited bids from five reactor vendors to supply the new reactor at Olkiluoto. In January 2013, it received submissions regarding Areva's EPR, GE-Hitachi's ESBWR, South Korea's APR1400 via a KHNP consortium, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' APWR and Toshiba's ABWR. It has yet to select a design for the unit.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News