VVER approved for Hanhikivi project

18 September 2014

Finland's government has approved an amendment to Fennovoima's decision in principle for its Hanhikivi plant, paving the way for the company to apply to build a Russian-designed reactor there. However, a decision on extending TVO's decision in principle has been deferred.

Hanhikivi 1 AES-2006 (Fennovoima)_460
An artistic impression of how an AES-2006 plant could look at Hanhikivi (Image: Fennovoima)

Fennovoima received a positive decision in principle from the government in 2010 for the construction of a new nuclear plant of 1500-2500 MWe capacity at Hanhikivi. However, in early March, the company applied to amend that decision in principle to include Rosatom's AES-2006 plant, which uses a 1200 MWe-class reactor.

The cabinet announced today that, in accordance with Finland's nuclear law, it considers the Fennovoima project "is still for the overall good of society." Approval of the amendment of Fennovoima's decision in principle, to include the AES-2006 design, was given in a 10-7 vote.

Fennovoima's decision in principle will now be sent to parliament for debate. The parliament has the power to either approve or revoke it, but it cannot make changes to the content of the decision in principle.

Greens quit government

Finland's Green Party said that it will resign from the coalition government in response to the approval of the amendment to Fennovoima's decision in principle.

In a statement, the party said the decision "is in direct conflict" with preconditions the Green Party set when it agreed to be part of the government. "For this reason, the Greens are no longer able to continue the government," it said.

The current government - appointed in June - is a majority coalition formed by the National Coalition Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Swedish People's Party in Finland, the Green League and the Christian Democratic Party.

On 16 September, minister of economic affairs Jan Vapaavuori recommended the government approve Fennovoima's application to supplement the decision in principle. However, he said one precondition for the construction permit should be that at least 60% of Fennovoima's shares must be in Finnish ownership.

The government has said that if the parliament approves the amended decision in principle, this condition of ownership must remain.

Fennovoima now has until the end of June 2015 to submit an application for a construction licence to build the Hanhikivi plant.

TVO decision delayed

A government decision on extending Teollisuuden Voima Oyj's (TVO's) decision in principle for a fourth reactor at its Olkiluoto plant, however, has been postponed. At the cabinet's meeting today, the finance minister requested access to documents related to TVO's request so that he can examine them in more depth.

In May, TVO asked for a five-year extension to its 2010 decision in principle to construct the unit. Such an extension would have meant that the company would have until the end of June 2020 in which to submit a construction licence application for the new unit. Delays in the start-up of unit 3 at Olkiluoto (OL3) - the first of a kind EPR - prompted its request. Earlier this month TVO asked the government to consider a new deadline for the end of March 2019.

Vapaavuori had recommended the government reject TVO's application for an extension citing "uncertainties connected with the OL3 project" and the "impact on the workings of the electricity market."

A TVO spokesman told World Nuclear News if the extension is not approved, the company still has until July 2015 under its current decision in principle to apply for a construction licence for OL4. However, "We have already said that we will not start a new multi billion-euro project until we have OL3 producing electricity. If after next summer we decide to go ahead with the OL4 project, it means we have to go through the entire application process again," he noted.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News