L’EPR d’Olkiluoto on October 3, 2016 in Eurasia, Finland (Lehtiguva / Marty Cainulinen)
After sixteen years of work, twelve years after the initially scheduled commissioning date, the plant operator announced on Tuesday that the EPR nuclear reactor, built by the French Areva, was launched tonight for the first time in Finland.
After the first chain reaction of 03:22 local (01:22 GMT) inside the reactor, 30% of the power generation should start in January, before operating normally in June. In a press release, D.V.O.
“The moment of launch is historic. The last time a nuclear reactor was launched in Finland was more than 40 years ago, and even in Europe this event was about 15 years ago,” the Olkiluoto plant operator underlined. A nuclear reactor was launched in Romania in 2007.
By the end of the project, which began in 2005 in southwestern Finland, delays and financial slippages had led to the crossing of the Areva, making the Olkiluoto EPR the most powerful reactor operating in Europe.
With a capacity of 1,650 MW, it should provide 15% of Nordic consumption.
“This moment will always remain a testament to the diligence of our work to operate our new reactor,” said Marjo Mastonen, Vice President of TVO, praising “Finland’s greatest contribution to the climate.”
World map showing various EPRs in service or under construction (AFP /)
After refueling at the reactor in March, Finland approved approving the reactor last week.
Designed to upgrade nuclear power after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, EPR faced major construction problems, especially in Finland but also in Flemenville, France, especially thanks to significant concrete structural and safety improvements.
– Finally “rebirth”? –
In Olkiluoto, these difficulties led to long and sharp tensions between TVO, Areva and the Finnish nuclear power, Stuk. TVO signed an agreement in March 2019 to close the case, to pay 450 million euros in compensation.
Kovit-19 caused further delays at the Finnish site, where two older reactors were already operating.
Only two EPR reactors are operational in the world so far, with construction of the Tyshan Power Station in China starting after Olkiluoto-3, the first nuclear reactor to be ordered in the European Union after Chernobyl.
Reactor No. 1 at the plant, located near Hong Kong, has been shut down since July following an incident described by Beijing as “current”.
Launched in 1992, EPR technology was developed jointly by French Areva and German Siemens in their joint venture, from which Siemens retreated. Designed to operate for 60 years, the “European Pressure Water Reactor” is based on the world’s most widely used pressure water reactor technology.
Olgluto Atomic Station Site, June 15, 2010 (AFP / ANNE HAUTEFEUILLE)
The setbacks and financial slips of the Finnish shipyard, which amounted to billions of euros in losses, led to a complete overhaul of Areva, giving birth to key operations Orano and Framatome (a subsidiary of EDF).
Areva SA is the only one left, and its main goal is to complete the olgloto-3.
“The move paves the way for Finland residents to produce safe, reliable and low-carbon electricity,” Framatome managing director Bernard Fontana said in a statement.
If the EPR’s problems have dampened hopes of a “renaissance” after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, nuclear power will see its chances improve again in the face of the climate crisis.
Using uranium, nuclear power plants do not emit CO2 during its production and are generally very low carbon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has raised its forecasts for the first time since Fukushima this year, signaling a doubling of nuclear power now established by 2050, indicating a more favorable economic situation.
Map / Spy