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TVO unperturbed by nuclear reactor’s spiralling cost estimates

The head of Finnish power utility TVO is unconcerned by speculation that the Olkiluoto 3 reactor could cost as much as 8.5 billion euros.

The Olkiluoto nuclear power plant
Olkiluoto's third unit has been under construction since 2005. Image: Yle

Teollisuuden Voima CEO Jarmo Tanhua declined on Thursday to comment specifically on the latest cost speculation by the French company Areva, which is building the ill-starred reactor. He stressed that the two companies have agreed on a set price for the project.

The nation’s fifth commercial reactor is under construction near Rauma on the Finnish west coast.

“We have a turnkey contract with a set price, so we cannot of course comment in any way on Areva’s own estimate,” Tanhua told Yle.

He did concede that the delays on the project are costing TVO money.

“The fact that the project has been delayed and is taking longer means that our own people have to work longer and financing costs are adding up, so of course it is causing us additional expenses,” he said.

3bn, 6.4bn – or 8.5bn?

Areva suggested earlier on Thursday that the overall cost of OL3 could rise again. At a press conference in Paris, Areva CEO Luc Oursel said that the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) type reactor at Olkiluoto would cost about the same as a similar unit being built in France – or two and a half times its original estimate.

Last week the French utility Électricité de France (EDF) raised the estimated price tag for the Flamanville reactor in Normandy to as much as 8.5 billion euros.

"We estimate that the costs of Olkiluoto are near those of Flamanville," Areva Chief Executive Luc Oursel told reporters on the sidelines of a press briefing on Thursday, held to defend the 1,600-MW EPR reactor.

The cost of OL3 was last estimated at 6.4 billion euros. In 2003 TVO said it expected the unit to cost just over three billion euros.

Similar reactors in the UK?

The reactor in the municipality of Eurajoki was originally scheduled to start operations in 2009, but now will go online until 2015 at the earliest.

Earlier this year TVO filed a claim with the International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court over delays on the project.

Also on Thursday, British regulators approved the EPR design for new nuclear reactors favoured by EDF Energy, which has proposed building two new plants in the UK.

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