Finnish utility Fortum has submitted an application to the government for a decision-in-principle concerning the construction of a third reactor at its Loviisa site in south-eastern Finland.
|How one artist imagines Loviisa could look with an additional PWR (Image: Fortum)
All three companies interested in building new reactors in the country (Fortum, TVO and Fennovoima) have now reached the same point and await government decisions on whether they are allowed to embark on their projects, but the government has said it will only issue a decision-in-principle to one of them.
The routine is that decisions-in-principle are issued if a project is in line with the overall good of society. It is then forwarded for consideration in parliament, where it could remain in force or be reversed.
Mikael Lilius, chief executive of Fortum, has suggested that the Finnish government should grant construction permits to all three contenders in the bid to build the country's sixth nuclear power reactor. Speaking to industry publication Energia in September 2008, Lilius said: "I cannot understand why one should start regulating who can build and who cannot when we have three willing builders." He added, "It has long been said that the industry is underinvesting. Would it not be good if it invested more?"
According to its application, Fortum will construct a third reactor at Loviisa with a capacity of between 1000 and 1800 MWe. The unit is to be operational in 2020 and will have a designed service life of at least 60 years. Loviisa 3 will be designed to allow for combined heat and power production. The project will cost €4-6 billion ($5-8 billion), which Fortum says it could finance by acquiring funding from international financial markets and by utilising the cash flows of its existing business.
Although Fortum has yet to make a decision on the design of the new reactor, the company is reported to be interested in Russia's new 1150 MWe version of the well-proven VVER-1000 (AES-2006), Toshiba's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power's APR1400 and GE-Hitachi's Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). Two VVER units equipped with Western control systems already operate at the coastal site.
In compliance with the Finland's nuclear laws, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report is required before an application for a decision-in-principle on building a new nuclear power unit can be submitted to the government. On 3 April 2008, Fortum submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy the EIA report for Loviisa 3.
Finland currently has four nuclear reactors in operation - two at Loviisa operated by Fortum and two at Olkiluoto operated by TVO - providing 27% of its electricity. A third reactor at Olkiluoto is under construction. TVO is also proposing to build a further reactor at Olkiluoto, while Fennovoima is considering building a plant at one of three possible sites. TVO applied for a decision-in-principle for Olkiluoto 4 in April 2008 and Fennovoima submitted its application in January 2009.