System tests further delay Finnish EPR start-up

19 December 2019

The loading of fuel into the core of the Olkiluoto 3 has been delayed until June next year because of slow progress of the system tests and shortcomings in spare part deliveries, the Areva-Siemens consortium has informed Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO). Grid connection of the EPR is now scheduled for November, with the start of regular electricity production expected in March 2021.

The Olkiluoto 3 EPR, pictured in September 2016 (Image: TVO)

In the previous schedule provided to TVO in July, the supplier said nuclear fuel was to be loaded into the reactor in January 2020, the first connection to the grid to take place in April, and the start of regular electricity production was to take place in July. Last month, the Areva-Siemens consortium told TVO the commissioning of Olkiluoto 3 was running six weeks behind schedule. It said it would provide an updated schedule to TVO this month.

According to the commissioning programme, the unit will generate 1-3 terawatt-hours of electricity at varying power levels during the test programme, which will begin when the reactor is grid connected and will end at the start of regular electricity production.

The supplier has told TVO the latest delay is due to system tests taking longer than expected and long delivery times for spare parts. "Among other things, in the tests of auxiliary diesel generators some faulty components were found," TVO said. "The delivery time of compensatory spare parts is months. According to the plant supplier, the final verification of the mechanical, electrical and the I&C systems has to be done carefully and with high quality."

"Because of numerous delays we have to do maintenance to equipment and components already installed to ensure fluent start-up and continuous operation," said Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's director for the project. "The manufacturing and deliveries of the spare parts take time but according to this new schedule we are able to take the greatest climate act in Finland to production."

The OL3 plant supplier consortium - Areva GmbH, Areva NP SAS and Siemens AG - is constructing the unit under a fixed-price turnkey contract. They have joint liability for the contractual obligations until the end of the guarantee period of the unit. The consortium began construction of Olkiluoto 3 in 2005. Completion of the reactor was originally scheduled for 2009, but the project has had various delays and setbacks.

TVO was granted an operating licence by the Finnish government for Olkiluoto 3 on 7 March. For fuel loading, TVO still requires a separate authorisation from the country's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.

In December 2018, unit 1 of the Taishan plant in China's Guangdong province became the first EPR to enter commercial operation. Taishan 2 began commercial operation in September. The loading of fuel into the Flamanville EPR in France, construction of which began in December 2007, is now scheduled for the end of 2022. Two EPR units are also under construction at the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, UK.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News