Fennovoima maintains 2021 goal for Hanhikivi construction licence

08 April 2021

Significant progress was made last year with work to obtain a construction licence for the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in Finland, Fennovoima said in its 2020 Annual Report, released yesterday. It still expects to receive the licence by the end of 2021 despite a "challenging" schedule.

How the Hanhikivi-1 plant will look (Image: Fennovoima)

"We have a good year behind us," said Fennovoima CEO Joachim Specht. "It is significant for both Fennovoima and the entire project, as we mostly achieved our goals and proceeded according to plan."

During 2020, Fennovoima reviewed the plant's layout and with Russian plant supplier RAOS Project it resolved several open issues with the plant's design. These issues included the plant's primary circuit, containment and defence-in-depth. Fennovoima also reviewed all of the plant's 150 buildings.

Janne Liuko, Fennovoima's utility operations director, said the automation architecture has also been assessed, but that final verification has yet to be completed. This spring, the company will move on to review for the first time plant-level issues such as operability, operating costs, design integrity and implementation feasibility, he said, adding it does not expect any significant changes to the project.

Documentation submissions

Juho Helander, Fennovoima's nuclear safety director, said the safety solutions of the Hanhikivi 1 plant were extensively reviewed last year with the plant supplier and Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). By the end of 2020, Fennovoima submitted six of 15 documentation packages to STUK, the most important of which describe the plant's key safety functions. Helander said all issues regarding plant safety would be closed, and the complete documentation for the construction licence application would be submiited to STUK this year. 

"We aim to deliver the remaining nine documentation batches to STUK during the first half of 2021, which is a very challenging and ambitious goal," said the head of licensing, Juho Vierimaa.

Petri Jyrälä, Fennovoima's engineering director, said the company had informed RAOS Project just over a year ago that the design of the control room building did not meet its expectations. The building was completely redesigned in 2020. The progress of instrumentation and control (I&C) system design has been "regrettably slow", he said, which has affected the plant's technical design, its progress and the review of the design documentation.

Project Director Jouni Takakarhu said the technical design for the I&C system is still at a very early stage, which has created some "schedule pressure". In addition, the project organisation responsible for the I&C delivery is not yet fully formed, he added.

"Successful and timely deliveries of equipment with long lead times are essential for the progress of the project. Our goal is to have the manufacturing of components related to the reactor and primary circuit started during 2021." Work on the reactor pressure vessel forgings is expected to begin in the second half of this year.

Construction readiness

Vojtech Jansky, Fennovoima's project manager for nuclear island projects, said the company has been preparing for the construction phase for many years. "The most critical thing to achieve is the power plant's technical design, which must be mature enough to obtain the construction licence and proceed with the actual construction. In addition to the basic design, the detailed design must advance to a stage that allows the start of construction of the buildings."

Jansky noted Fennovoima began its own self-assessment of construction readiness based on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines in 2020. This year, it will invite the IAEA to conduct a construction readiness review mission at Fennovoima, he added.

"The year 2021 will be even more challenging than previous years," Specht said. "Our focus is on three factors: obtaining the construction license, ensuring a high availability factor of the plant, and Fennovoima's readiness for safe and efficient construction."

Fennovoima signed the plant supply contract for Hanhikivi with Rusatom Overseas - Rosatom's nuclear power plant exports subsidiary - in December 2013. Rosatom offered to build a plant using a 1200 MWe AES-2006 VVER under a fixed-price contract. The Hanhikivi project is owned by Fennovoima, in which a 34% stake is held by RAOS Voima Oy, the Finnish subsidiary set up in 2014 by Rosatom for the purpose of buying a share in the company. Start of commercial operation of Hanhikivi is scheduled for 2028.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News