After years of delays, runaway costs and heated contractual disagreements, the construction of Europe’s largest nuclear reactor is nearing completion in Eurajoki, Southwest Finland, writes industryeurope.com. The new plant unit is located at the western end of the Olkiluoto island, next to the OL1 and OL2 units. The net electrical output of the unit will be approximately 1,600 MW.
Although the nuclear plant, which has been under construction since 2005, was supposed to be up and running by 2009, the country’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) only gave its permission to load the plant with fuel at the end of March 2021.
The process will involve 241 fuel assemblies comprising 128 tons of uranium being loaded into the reactor’s pressure vessel. The fuel originally arrived onsite in 2018, plant operator TVO said.
Finnish government reported that the operation of OL3 is considered to begin with its first refuelling. Following this, it will gradually become connected to the country’s electricity grid. The regular commercial operation of the unit is expected to start in February 2022.
“This is the most significant step in the commissioning of the plant unit so far. Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) is one of the world’s largest and most modern nuclear power plants. The systems have now been rigorously tested, and we will be able to begin fuel loading soon,” said Jouni Silvennoinen, project director for nuclear utility company TVO.
“The most important thing in the use of nuclear power is to take care of the safety of the plant. Safety is not compromised at any stage during the construction and commissioning process of nuclear power units. As the licensee of the TVO plant, it is responsible for its safety, and STUK’s task as an authority is to supervise this,” commented the Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä.
Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) is an EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) plant unit that includes modern proven technology and advanced new safety features. Particular attention has been paid to factors that further increase the safety of the plant, such as the prevention and management of severe accidents, as well as to the efficiency, including cost-efficiency, of production.
The development is based on plants commissioned in France (N4) and Germany (Konvoi).
Olkiluoto 3 EPR was ordered as a turnkey delivery from a consortium (plant supplier) formed by AREVA GmbH, AREVA NP SAS, and Siemens AG.
OL3 EPR is a major international project. At its busiest, the project employed around 4,500 people. Recently, the number of employees has remained at approximately 1,500 people. The project’s subcontracting work also offers employment both in Finland and internationally.
The operating personnel were granted operator licenses by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) in December 2018. The hot functional testing (HFT) was completed in May 2018. In the HFT, the nuclear and turbine island operated for the first time together as an entity without nuclear fuel. The Finnish Government granted an operating license for OL3 EPR on March 7, 2019.