7 Mar (NucNet): The Finnish government today granted an operating licence for Teollisuuden Voima Oyj’s Olkiluoto-3 EPR nuclear power unit, which is nearing completion in the municipality of Eurajoki in southwest Finland, TVO said in a statement.
TVO said the fixed-term licence for the 1,600-MW unit is valid until the end of 2038.
TVO said an assessment by the regulator on 25 February that operation of the unit will be safe played an important part in the government’s decision.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) said its assessment was based on a comprehensive safety review. Stuk said it has assessed the technical and structural safety of the plant and the ability of TVO and its employees to run the plant safely.
Stuk said a condition for the licence will be that TVO makes a first periodic safety re-assessment by the end of 2028 and submits it to Stuk for approval.
TVO will still need separate permission from Stuk for the loading of nuclear fuel. One issue to be resolved before fuel loading is to eliminate vibrations in the pressuriser surge line, which is part of the reactor coolant system. The vibrations were detected during recent commissioning tests.
“Stuk will inspect the plans for the solution presented by TVO, and will oversee the work and verify that the modifications have been completed and the effectiveness of the solution tested before fuel loading,” TVO said.
TVO said that together with renewable energy, nuclear power plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change. About 27% of electricity consumed in Finland is produced from the country’s fleet of four commercial reactors. The commissioning of Olkiluoto-3 will increase the share to about 40%, TVO said.
TVO gave no details today of the schedule for Olkiluoto-3’s operation, but according to a schedule provided by Stuk last month, the plant is expected to be connected to the national grid for the first time in October 2019. Fuel loading is expected in the summer of 2019 and commercial operation in early 2020.
Construction of Olkiluoto-3 began in August 2005 and it is about nine years behind schedule.
In March 2018, TVO signed an agreement with Areva-Siemens (Areva was restructured into Framatome and Orano in 2017) over costs and losses caused by delays to the Olkiluoto-3 project. The settlement included compensation of €450m to be paid in two instalments.