New Finnish reactor at full power

October 4, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
Finland’s Olkiluoto-3. (Photo: TVO)

The Unit 3 EPR at Finland’s Olkiluoto nuclear power plant has reached its full capacity of approximately 1,600 MWe for the first time, plant owner and operator Teollisuuden Voima Oyj has announced. Olkiluoto-3 is now the most powerful reactor in Europe and the third most powerful globally, according to TVO. (Currently, the world champions in that department are China’s 1,660-MWe Taishan-1 and -2, also EPRs.)

“Today, we have reached a historically important figure on our production monitor,” declared Marjo Mustonen, TVO’s senior vice president for electricity production, in a September 30 press release. “We will now focus on completing the tests according to the commissioning program and reaching regular electricity production in December.”

Ten sets of tests impacting the plant unit’s power level remain, TVO said, all of which, excluding one, have been previously conducted at lower power levels. “In some of the upcoming tests, the plant unit’s production is either intentionally interrupted or the power level is lowered,” the company stated. “A completely new test to be completed is the so-called Fault Ride Through, carried out together with transmission system operator Fingrid, in which a short circuit is caused in the main grid’s test area. In addition, multiple tests are conducted at full power which have no impact on the plant unit’s power level.”

Background: Located in western Finland, the Olkiluoto facility also houses two 890-MWe boiling water reactors. Units 1 and 2 began commercial operation in October 1979 and July 1982, respectively.

Construction of Olkiluoto-3 began in 2005. Following years of delays, initial criticality was finally achieved in December 2021 and grid connection was accomplished this March. At the time, TVO projected that commercial operation would begin in late July. In April, however, the company announced a postponement to September, due to inspection and repair needs regarding the cooling system of the unit’s generator. An additional postponement to December was announced in June.

Europe’s first EPR, Olkiluoto-3 is also the first new Finnish reactor in four decades and one of only three new reactors in Europe in the past 15 years. (Romania’s Cernavoda-2 began supplying electricity to the grid in August 2007, and Belarus’s Belarusian-1 in November 2020.)

In last Friday’s announcement, TVO said that about 40 percent of Finland’s electricity is currently produced at the plant, adding, “Olkiluoto-1 and Olkiluoto-2 produce approximately 21 percent of the current electricity demand in total, and Olkiluoto-3 approximately 19 percent.”

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