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Olkiluoto 3 trial run garners widespread interest

Test operations of Teollisuuden Voima's (TVO) Olkiluoto 3 reactor are slated to begin again in the next few days.

Bild av ett kärnkraftverk.
After 13 years of delays, Olkiluoto 3 is scheduled to be operational in December. Image: Lucas Ekblad / Yle
Yle News

Teollisuuden Voima's (TVO) Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant was connected to the national electricity grid for the first time on 12 March this year, after years of delays.

At that time, it was assumed that the test operations would last a few months, after which regular electricity production would begin in July.

The trial run was interrupted first due to repair work and system updates, delaying production to December of this year.

The next trial run is slated to continue until the end of August. It is expected to cause another increase in web traffic to TVO's website, where many people want to monitor how much power the reactor is generating for the grid.

The interest in the test trials has been so great in recent months that it could be considered a phenomenon.

"There has been enormous interest in Olkiluoto 3. I have never seen anything like it before. People want to know how the deployment is progressing and when we will reach the finish line," said Johanna Aho, Communications Manager at TVO for 15 years.

Aho went on to say that some posts on social media have garnered hundred of thousands of views, thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments.

Nuclear power plant eases coming winter

While the plant was initially set to be completed 13 years ago, it is now, perhaps more than ever, needed by Finland.

This winter, Finland and the rest of Europe face an energy crisis — a consequence of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Olkiluoto 3 has a maximum capacity of 1,600 megawatts — enough to cover about 14 percent of Finland's electricity needs.

"The maximum capacity imported from Russia in the past has been around 1,300 megawatts. Once operational, this plant will effectively replace the capacity of Russian imports. That is a valuable thing," Riku Huttunen, Head of the Energy Department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment told Yle.

Huttunen went on to describe the reaction to the initial tests and the reactor itself.

"Nothing exciting or surprising. But it was a moment of joy when the test run showed that the turbine works! There is only one turbine and it is a world record size. I really hope that the power plant will be in full commercial operation in December and possibly in a reliable way," Huttunen shared.

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