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Third Olkiluoto nuclear reactor granted operating license

The government granted a long-awaited operating license to the Olkiluoto 3 reactor in western Finland on 7 March.

The Olkiluoto 1 and Olkiluoto 2 nuclear power plant reactors on the Eurojoki river. Image: Copyright TVO

Finland's government has granted a long-awaited operating permit for a third reactor at a plant with two other existing reactors in the western Finland city of Eurojoki. The owner Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) says the new reactor will start adding power to the grid already in January 2020 – 11 years after it was originally planned to start generating electricity.

The license is a fixed-term one, and will be valid until 2038.

TVO says that once it is up and running, the third Olkiluoto reactor will generate 15 percent of Finland's total electricity requirements.

"This is a historic decision, no doubt. The last time an operating license was granted for a nuclear power plant in Finland was in 1979," Jarmo Tanhua, CEO and President of TVO, said.

The government made its decision based on a 25 February statement issued by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK) that confirmed the addition to the plant would be safe to operate.

"Olkiluoto 3 will significantly improve the self-sufficiency of Finland's electricity production and increase the overall share of emissions-free output," Kimmo Tiilikainen, minister of environment, energy and housing, commented.

Teollisuuden Voima still needs a separate permission from STUK for the loading of the nuclear fuel before the plant can begin operations and connect to the grid.

Construction of the third Olkiluoto plant, a French-German EPR type reactor, began already back in 2005. With a rated output of 1,600 megawatts, it will be one of the world's largest nuclear reactors.

In December 2012, the French multi-national building contractor, Areva (siirryt toiseen palveluun), estimated that the full cost of building the reactor will end up being about 8.5 billion euros, almost three times the original estimated delivery price of 3 billion euros. Planning, supervision, and workmanship delays have been widespread at the site.

The addition of a third reactor to the Olkiluoto plant will reduce Finland's electricity imports, and some predict it will augur a decrease in electricity prices in Finland.