SOCHI, Russia –Finnish nuclear power company Fennovoima is expected to begin constructing the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in the northern part of Finland by the end of 2020.
Supplied by Russian state corporation Rosatom, the plant will help Finland meet its EU climate targets and should not be affected by the recent US sanctions against Russia, Finnish Fennovoima’s CEO Toni Hemminki told New Europe in an interview on the sidelines of the 10th anniversary of the international forum Atomexpo being held in Russia’s Black Sea coastal city Sochi.
The plant, in the northern Finnish town of Pyhäjoki, will have a third generation pressurised water reactor VVER-1200 supplied by RAOS Project Oy, a subsidiary of Rosatom Energy International. The Russian reactor at Hanhikivi 1 will include all of the safety measures that have been required since the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant in March 2011, Hemminki said.
“There is a passive 72-hour heat removal, a core catcher, so all the good technical features are there but then we have struggled a bit to document it in a way that it fulfils Finnish requirements,” said Hemminki.
He shrugged off suggestions that the sanctions imposed on Russia since 2014 will hamper the development of the project, saying the restrictions have had no knock-on effect as of yet.
“As far we can see, there are no (negative) affects with the current sanctions for the project. There have been some discussions and there is a proposal in the Duma (Russia’s parliament) about Russian sanctions, but my understanding is that because Hanhikivi is an important project for our supplier, there shouldn’t be any significant effects on the project,” said Hemminki, referring to a counter-sanctions legislation proposed this week by Russian MPs.
Hemminki also referred to a recent statement by the Russia’s ambassador to Helsinki, Alexander Rumyantsev, that Russo-Finnish long-term economic cooperation is as good as it can be under the current geo-political situation.
Hemminki said the next step in the process is to have a construction license by the autumn of next year. “RAOS is still looking for an update and will then do a review. We are expecting the Construction License to be granted in late 2019, and the aim is to begin the construction activities of the nuclear power plant during the spring of 2020. We are expecting the overall schedule for the construction of the nuclear power plant from the plant supplier, RAOS,” he said.
“For us, the main and only supplier for the project is RAOS and then they will build the supply chain. In their supply chain the main players are there,” Hemminki explained, adding that RAOS owns one third of the company so will get one third of the electricity.
Fennovoima will provide all the necessary information to the Finnish government’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, or STUK, later this year. “For example, in March, we provided the information packages every week with the intention that we finalise the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report…the heart of the licensing process. We will finalise that with RAOS this autumn and then provide it to STUK close to year’s end,” Hemminki said.
Based on Hemminki’s own words, Finland needs the new energy that will be generated by the plant. “We’re importing about 20-25% of our energy on annual level, so our project will replace the imported electricity,” who also stressed that Hanhikivi 1 will help Finland meet its EU climate targets.
“In Finland, we’re also getting rid of the use of coal by about 2025 so that will also take away some capacity from the market and we’re also coming to the market, so I think that also helps,” he said while adding, “Today Finnish nuclear plants produce 18 terawatt hours and we will produce 9 terawatt hours. Current nuclear electricity production in Finland amounts to around 22% of the total, so there is still room for other capacities.”
The Fennovoima CEO concluded Support for nuclear power in Finland is robust, according to Hemminki, who also said, “There are more people supporting nuclear (energy) than those who are against.”
Around 75% of residents in the Pyhäjoki region support Fennovoima, and the support has been continuously increasing. “This is very important when you’re building a greenfield nuclear power plant in Europe,” Hemminki said.
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