Finnish nuclear program gets ready

01 July 2010

Final parliamentary approval for two new reactor projects in Finland has put the new build ball into the utilities' court to complete their planning and agree on waste disposal. 


Approving decisions in principle made by the cabinet in May, Finland's Edkunta left the way clear today for two utilities to build new nuclear generating capacity.


Both Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) and Fennovoima said they were "very pleased" with the result, adding that their plans would benefit Finland as a whole. They may now select a reactor supplier and begin the year-long process with government to obtain a construction licence.


For Fennovoima, this will depend on resolving issues regarding a disposal route for used fuel, while today's approvals also allowed an expansion of waste plans to accommodate TVO's new reactor.


Fennovoima said it would "proceed rapidly and effectively" to pick a site in 2011 (either Phyhäjoki in North Ostrobothnia or Simo in Lapland) and begin excavations in 2012. By 2014 it hopes to have a construction licence and begin to build the actual power plant. It wants to generate nuclear electricity "no later than 2020."


TVO meanwhile is busy working on the Areva EPR under construction at Olkiluoto and did not give any dates for its next reactor. It wants to build again at Olkiluoto and it has specified that the project would represent only a single large light-water reactor of 1400-1700 MWe capacity at one of two locations at the site.


The decisions in principle give TVO and Fennovoima five years to apply for their construction permits.


What about the waste? 


Parliament's move on waste gave Posiva permission to expand the size of its permanent disposal facility proposed for land alongside Olkiluoto. Posiva is owned by current nuclear operators TVO and Fortum and has the responsibility to manage their used nuclear fuel. It is already developing the Onkalo rock laboratory, which will be expanded into the final repository should geologic formations live up to expectations. That project reached its final depth of 420 metres in June.


Posiva's expansion will allow it space to manage TVO's used fuel, but because of its ownership the company was not able to apply to manage Fennovoima's as well. This impasse will have to be resolved before Fennovoima can get a construction licence, which means agreeing with rivals TVO and Fortum on a way to 'buy into' Posiva's existing program.


Fennovoima noted that, "Parliament requires that the government contributes to starting assessment and negotiations during 2010 between Posiva, Posiva's owners and Fennovoima regarding the final disposal of used nuclear fuel. Fennovoima is prepared to act in accordance with the will of parliament."


Researched and written 

by World Nuclear News