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The Government granted an operating licence to the nuclear power plant unit Olkiluoto 3

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 7.3.2019 13.32
Press release
OL3 voimalaitos
Photo: Tapio Karjanlahti

On 7 March 2019, the Finnish Government granted Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) an operating licence under section 20 of the Nuclear Energy Act for the nuclear power plant unit Olkiluoto 3. The licence will remain in effect until 31 December 2038.

Preparations for the commissioning of Olkiluoto 3 unit are under way. Teollisuuden Voima has announced that regular commercial use of the plant is scheduled to begin in early 2020. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland, is supervising the preparations and work that's already under way, and will carry out an inspection before granting permission for nuclear fuel loading to ensure that all the requirements for safe use of the plant are met. Once permission for fuel loading has been granted, the power company may bring the plant online.

“We need to do everything we can to fight climate change. The commissioning of long-awaited Olkiluoto 3 will contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 80 per cent of Finland’s electricity is already generated without causing emissions,  and the new nuclear power unit will raise the percentage to 85,” says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing.

“The most important thing with nuclear power is to ensure the safety of the power plant. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, as the licence holder, is responsible for safety, and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland, is responsible for ensuring compliance with safety requirements. Olkiluoto 3 is the first nuclear power plant in the world to have a fully designed and operational waste management system ready at the commissioning stage. The plant is included in the plans for a final disposal facility, prepared by Posiva, an expert organisation responsible for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel,” Minister Tiilikainen points out.

When considering whether TVO met the conditions to be granted an operating licence, the Government based its decision in particular on the favourable statement and security assessment submitted by the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK). According to STUK’s assessment, operations at Olkiluoto 3 are safe and meet the relevant legislative requirements. STUK did not identify any security issues that would prevent the Government from granting the operating licence to the extent described in the application.

The licence conditions state that TVO must conduct a periodic safety review of the Olkiluoto 3 unit before the end of 2028. The scope of the review will be determined on the basis of applicable international and national recommendations and practices, and STUK’s regulations and requirements.  Other licence conditions have to do with the possession, production, processing, use and storage of nuclear material, and nuclear waste management.

Olkiluoto 3 will be the biggest power plant unit in the Nordic and Baltic electricity markets, with its annual output accounting for some 15 per cent of Finland’s electricity consumption. This is important in terms of the balance between electricity supply and demand in Finland. The plant’s output alone will cover 10 per cent of the electrical power needed on the coldest winter days. This will significantly decrease the power deficit and reduce energy import dependency during periods of peak demand.

The Olkiluoto 3 unit is planned to be in continuous use, with the exception of annual maintenances. Its planned operating life is at least 60 years. According to this plan, the operating life of the unit would come to an end in 2080. However, the unit’s technical life may be considerably longer than originally planned.

Olkiluoto 3 has a pressurised water reactor equipped with water cooling and water retardation systems, developed from a French EPR model to meet Finnish requirements and regulations. The nominal thermal output of the unit is 4,300 megawatts (MW) and its electrical net output is approximately 1,600 MW.

The Government made a decision in principle on the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant on 17 January 2002, and granted a construction licence on 17 February 2005.

Liisa Heikinheimo, Head of the Fuels and Nuclear Energy Unit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 50 567 5451
Jaakko Louvanto, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 8274

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