New nuclear power plant in Finland The first in Europe after 15 years

Of Sara Gandolfi

Olkiluoto-3, the first reactor purchased after the Chernobyl disaster, turns on. The Helsinki goal is to cut dependence on Russia. 12 years late

After fifteen years, a new nuclear reactor is “ignited” in Europe. The Finnish Olkiluoto-3 was connected to the electricity grid for the first time on Saturday 12 March, said the plant operator, with a delay of 12 years compared to the planned launch. The goal of the Helsinki government is to be able to eliminate or at least reduce energy imports from neighboring countries, that is, from bulky Russia, but also from Sweden and Norway.

The invasion of Ukraine forced European governments to reconsider their reliance on Russian energy. Moscow supplies around 40% of Europe’s gas and over a quarter of its crude oil. The need to reduce these supplies has actually reignited the debate on nuclear energy across Europe for some time. the process is underway within the European Union to “label” it as green energy and while Germany is gradually shutting down its reactors, citing safety problems, France, Great Britain and other countries of the continent have announced new nuclear projects .

Located on the west coast of Finland, Olkiluoto-3 the first new nuclear power plant in the country in over four decades and the first in Europe in almost 15 years. The 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, built by the Areva-Siemens consortium, was originally to be inaugurated in 2009. It was presented as the symbol of Franco-German know-how, based on the third-party European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) model. generation, designed to improve safety and reduce costs. was the first nuclear power plant to be purchased in Europe after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Olkiluoto-3 will work together with two existing reactors, aiming to become the most powerful nuclear power plant in Europe. When fully operational, starting in July, it is estimated that it will supply around 14% of Finland’s energy needs. OL3 significantly improves Finland’s electricity self-sufficiency and helps us meet carbon neutrality goals, said the operator of the TVO plant, which plans to halve Finland’s net energy imports by 2025 (in recent years, an average of 13 terawatt hours).

From the beginning, however, the project suffered from technological hitches and the budget gradually increased: The cost increased from an initial estimate of € 3 billion to around € 11 billion, according to the World Nuclear Industry Report 2019. Finland’s Ministry of Economy and the country’s nuclear regulator blamed the Areva consortium for delays , which in March 2018 agreed to pay the Finnish operator TVO compensation of 450 million euros.

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