The Finnish government on February 16 granted a new operating license to Fortum Power and Heat Oy for its two Loviisa reactors—twin 507-MWe VVER-440/V213 units—providing them with an additional 20 years of operational life.
The reactors’ previous license sanctioned operations through December 31, 2027, for Unit 1 and through December 31, 2030, for Unit 2. Fortum projects that with the new license, Loviisa will produce up to 170 terawatt-hours of electricity from 2030 to 2050.
According to the government’s announcement, continuing operations at the plant “strengthens Finland’s self-sufficiency in electricity, which contributes to lowering the price level of electricity in Finland, thus benefiting households, businesses, and all other electricity users. For securing industrial competitiveness, it is essential to secure the supply of electricity at a reasonable price level. The prospect of stable and affordable electricity prices far into the future increases investors’ interest toward Finland.”
The decision to issue the license was not unexpected, given the safety review of Loviisa submitted recently by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), Finland’s nuclear regulator. In a January 26 press release on its review, STUK said that Fortum “has the necessary prerequisites, procedures, expertise, and resources to continue to operate safely.”
C-suite statement: “This decision is an important and welcome one not only for Fortum but for a clean and prosperous future for Finland,” said company president and chief executive officer Markus Rauramo. “Continuing production at Loviisa is above all an investment in providing the power the Finnish society needs to meet its ambitious climate targets. Decarbonization of our industries requires large volumes of clean and reliable electricity that cannot be covered by new additional and intermittent sources only. At the same time, nuclear, as a stable production form, is also a key enabler for growth of wind and solar in the Nordic power system.”
Rauramo also noted that Fortum is carrying out an assessment of the economic viability of new nuclear construction in Finland and/or Sweden. “The feasibility study, to be completed next year, focuses on the technical, economic, and societal preconditions that must be in place for Fortum to consider such a new large and long-term investment,” he said. (Last October, Fortum announced the launch of a two-year study to explore the potential for new nuclear construction, with a focus on Finland and neighboring Sweden. The utility said it will examine commercial, technological, and societal conditions for both conventional large reactors and small modular reactors.)
Background: One of Finland’s two nuclear power plants—the other being Olkiluoto, where a third unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation this year—Loviisa is located on the country’s southern coast near the town of Loviisa. In 2021, the plant produced 8.2 terawatt-hours of electricity—more than 10 percent of Finland’s annual electricity production.
Fortum initiated an environmental impact assessment procedure at the plant in August 2020 with the aim of operating the units to 2050. In March 2022, the utility announced it had decided to apply for the license renewals, stating that it wanted “to support achieving Finland’s and Europe’s carbon neutrality targets and enable the building of a reliable, competitive, and sustainable energy system.” Later that month, the application was submitted.