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A warning to UK – the disastrous history of Finland’s Olkiluoto nuclear station

“what’s most striking at the experience of Olkiluoto — just how many different things have gone wrong.”

reactor-Olkiluoto_14New nuclear: Finland’s cautionary tale for the UK ,Carbon Brief, 20 Oct 15,Finland has a 15-year-old problem called Olkiluoto 3. This nuclear plant was once the bright star of Finland’s energy future and Europe’s nuclear renaissance.

It was seen as a key component in Finland’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissionsby 80% by 2050 and end reliance on foreign imports of electricity, even during its long, dark Arctic winters. It is supposed to provide Finland with a low-carbon source of electricity for at least 60 years.

2006 article in the Telegraph spoke of the rebirth of Finnish love for nuclear power, describing the Olkiluoto site in phrases that could have been lifted from a pastoral poem: a “Baltic island of foraging swans”, “pine-scented” air and “unusually large salmon”.

But this source of hope has turned sour. Olkiluoto 3 — almost unpronounceable to non-Finns — is now nine years behind schedule and three times over budget. It has been subject to lawsuits, technology failure, construction errors and miscommunication. A rift between the companies behind the plant has been describedas “one of the biggest conflicts in the history of the construction sector”.

At best, it has been a turbulent lift-off to the lauded rebirth of nuclear power in western Europe. For the UK, which hopes to be a part of this renaissance, the story of Olkiluoto 3 offers a cautionary tale.

Background

The story of Olkiluoto 3 began in 2000…….

Construction problems

It is now 2015, and Finland still does not have its new nuclear plant.

The companies behind the project are at loggerheads. TVO is seeking compensation from Areva in court, the company responsible for supplying the reactor and turbine, and Areva is pursuing a counterclaim.

Herkko Plit, the deputy director of Finland’s energy department, tells Carbon Brief:

“I don’t think there’s anybody who can say they are pleased with the project.”……….

The case is being dealt with in the International Chamber of Commerce‘s arbitration court.

Nonetheless, Areva has been forced to accept losses. The company, which hasn’t turned a profit since 2010, recorded net losses of €4.8bn in 2014, largely due to Olkiluoto. It has agreed to sell a majority stake in its nuclear reactor business to EDF.

If the lawsuit turns against TVO, it could be Finland’s industry that feels the pain. The utilities company is owned by shareholders that buy the right to use the electricity produced by the power station……..

what’s most striking at the experience of Olkiluoto — just how many different things have gone wrong.” http://www.carbonbrief.org/new-nuclear-finlands-cautionary-tale-for-the-uk/

October 23, 2015 - Posted by | business and costs, Finland

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