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After 13-year delay, Finland nuclear reactor being brought online

  • Mar 16, 2022
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HELSINKI, Finland: Following a 13-year delay, Finish energy company Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said its much-delayed Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor is in the test stage of delivering power to the national grid.

It is hoped that the plant will reduce the need for importing electricity and lead to lower prices for Finns.

The 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, Finland's first new nuclear plant in over four decades and Europe's first in almost 15 years, had originally been due to open in 2009, but was plagued by technological problems that became the subject of lawsuits.

Olkiluoto 3 started test production at just over 0.1 gigawatt, a small fraction of its capacity, with a ramp-up to full, regular electricity output planned by the end of July.

In a statement, TVO said OL3 significantly improves Finland's electricity self-sufficiency and helps in achieving carbon neutrality goals.

Once fully operational, the plant is expected to meet 14 percent of Finland's electricity demand, reducing reliance on Russia, Sweden and Norway for energy.

"Olkiluoto 3 will decrease Finland's import dependency and it will become a cheaper price zone," said Aurora Energy Research economist Alexander Esser.

Finland's net imports of power averaged 13 terawatt hours (TWh) over the last few years, which should drop to 5 to 8 TWh by 2025 with Olkiluoto 3 in full operation, Esser added.

In Europe, nuclear power remains a controversial issue, with some countries, such as Germany, phasing out reactors while others, including France and Britain, are considering building new reactors.

TVO is owned by Finnish utility Fortum and smaller energy and forestry firms.

Marius Holm Rennesund, a partner at Oslo-based consultancy Thema, said Finland is the only Nordic country with a large power deficit.

According to Thema, Finnish wholesale power prices will drop to 60 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2023, from a predicted average of 70 euro/MWh in 2022, but the expected reduction will also come from lower gas prices.

Rennesund said in 2024 that Finnish wholesale power prices will likely fall further to 45 euros/MWh.

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