IAEA highlights role of nuclear power in Finland

26 November 2020

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö yesterday discussed the use of nuclear energy in support of climate change goals, nuclear verification and possibilities for cooperation in nuclear safety projects in the Arctic. They also discussed strengthening cooperation between Finland and the IAEA, the upcoming Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and nuclear verification in Iran, including the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plans of Action.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (left) and IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi (Image: IAEA)

Grossi is on a two-day official visit to Finland, during which he also plans to visit Onkalo, the first ever deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel under construction in Olkiluoto.

"Finland and the IAEA have a common interest in nuclear safety and security [...] both globally and in the Arctic region," Niinistö tweeted yesterday.

Grossi also met Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä, Director General of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Riku Huttunen and Director General of Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), Petteri Tiippana.

Discussion topics included nuclear safety and security, safeguards implementation, Finland’s energy strategy, the Agency’s initiative on Nuclear Technology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastic), the modernisation of the IAEA’s laboratories in Seibersdorf (ReNuAL), the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in countering climate change, gender parity and the IAEA’s Marie Sklowdowska Curie Fellowship Programme.

One-third of Finland’s electricity comes from nuclear power, and it is expected to rise to over 40% by 2022, once Olkiluoto 3 comes into operation, the IAEA said.

"Finland is grateful for all the IAEA support, such as the peer review services it has benefited from and will continue to benefit from in the coming years,” said Liisa Heikinheimo, who is responsible for nuclear energy as deputy director general of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

Peer review missions to Finland include International Physical Protection Advisory Service missions in 2009 and 2012, Integrated Regulatory Review Service missions in 2012 and 2015 and Operational Safety Review Team missions in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

“Finland also thanks the IAEA for all the activities it has been running to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic,” Heikinheimo said. “Fortunately, during the pandemic Finland has kept operating its nuclear power plant units.”

Grossi also visited the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd today, one of Europe’s leading research institutions. VTT has acted as the key technical support organisation to STUK as concerns nuclear reactors in Finland. About 27% of Finnish innovations are completely or in part results of VTT’s expertise. The IAEA cooperates with the centre on topics such as small modular reactors, fast reactor neutronics, emergency response and cancer treatment.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News