Utility: Rethink could kill Finland’s Olkiluoto 4 nuclear project

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

The Finnish power utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) says that its planned fourth Olkiluoto nuclear reactor will probably never be built if it is forced to re-apply for a new decision-in-principle.

The current decision only remains in force until next June. Work on the Olkiluoto 4 (OL4) project has been put off because of major delays and cost overruns at the unit’s predecessor, OL3. The firm has asked for the existing decision to be extended.

Big changes since 2010

Some politicians meanwhile have called for a complete re-evaluation of the planned OL4 unit near Pori on Finland’s west coast. They say this is essential in light of the huge OL3 setbacks, the proposed Fennovoima reactor in Pyhäjoki, northern Finland, doubts about waste storage and other significant changes in the economic and energy environment since the original preliminary OL4 decision was made in 2010.

“As we see it, there is no reason to go through the process again, as this is simply a question of timetables. A reconsideration would be a big risk and a significant domestic investment might remain completely unrealized. Then that would be it,” TVO communications head Pasi Tuohimaa said on Wednesday.

$134 million spent, lessons learnt

Tuohimaa pointed out that TVO has already spent nearly $134 million on planning OL4.

“We’ve spent a lot on it and we’ve also become wiser due to our earlier experiences, so we are still serious about carrying this project out.”

In May, TVO asked for an extension of its OL4 decision-in-principle. The government is to consider this request in the early autumn, while also discussing the Fennovoima venture.

The chair of the Parliament’s economic committee, Mauri Pekkarinen, said on Tuesday that consideration of the application should be put off until after the new legislature takes office next spring. Pekkarinen argued that nuclear power permits should not be granted to companies just so they can keep them on the shelf. The veteran opposition Center Party politician oversaw energy issues as Minister of Economic Affairs and Minister of Trade and Industry between 2003 and 2011.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.