The third unit of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant has finally begun commercial operations. Plant owner Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) says the unit was plugged into the national electricity grid at noon on Saturday. It is Finland's fifth nuclear reactor.
Initially, the unit, known as OL3, will generate 103 megawatts of electricity. During a trial period of about four months, the power will be gradually increased to 1,600 megawatts, reaching full capacity in July.
The unit is to cover about 14 percent of Finland's electricity consumption, bringing much-needed boost as energy prices rise sharply and imports from Russia drop.
"OL3 is a significant addition to clean electricity production in Finland, the share of which will rise to over 90 percent. At the same time, the need for the import of electricity will decrease to below half," said Senior Vice President of Electricity Production, Marjo Mustonen, in a statement on Saturday.
First EPR reactor outside of China
Olkiluoto 3 was originally scheduled to start up more than 12 years ago, in 2009, but was beset by a long series of technical delays, legal disputes and cost overruns.
Its total cost has been estimated at close to 11 billion euros, making it one of the world's most expensive buildings.
OL3 was intended to be the world's first reactor with the French EPR design, but two reactors of same type, known as pressurised water reactors, began operating in China in 2018 and 2019. Two others, in France and England, are expected to go online in 2023 and 2026.
The Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant, whose two reactors began operations in 1979 and 1982, is located in Eurajoki on Finland's west coast, some 50 kilometres south of Pori.
Loviisa NPP could run until 2050, Fennovoima in doubt
On 3 March, Fortum, which owns Finland's only other nuclear power plant, Loviisa in the south-east, applied for an extension of its operating license until 2050.
Loviisa's two reactors, built with Soviet technology, were commissioned in 1977 and 1980. Together they produce about 10 percent of the electricity consumed in Finland. Regulatory officials have signalled that the extension is likely to be approved.
Fortum is also part-owner of another nuclear venture, the planned Fennovoima plant on the west coast, to be built by the Russian state-owned Rosatom Group. The plant has not been granted a construction license.
On 25 February, a day after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Cen) said he would not propose granting a permit for the plant, whose key components were to be built in eastern Ukraine.