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Europe’s largest nuclear reactor launches 14 years behind schedule

Regular production at Olkiluoto 3 was delayed for years due to legal and technical setbacks

The Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) nuclear reactor in southwest Finland has begun electricity production, the head of the plant’s operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said in a statement on Sunday.

After a lengthy testing phase at the facility in Eurajoki, regular output was scheduled to start on Monday, but was instead launched at 2am on Sunday.

The 1.6 gigawatt OL3 is the most powerful nuclear reactor in Europe, and the third largest in the world. According to TVO President Jarmo Tanhua, it is expected to operate for at least 60 years and meet around 14% of Finland’s electricity demand.

The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilizes the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition,” Tanhua stated.

The construction of OL3 was launched back in 2005, and it was due to start producing electricity in 2009, but setbacks in the design work and a string of legal disputes resulted in a 14-year delay in its launch. The reactor was connected to Finland’s national power grid in March last year and started test production, but several technical glitches forced TVO to postpone its transition to regular operation several times.

OL3 is the third reactor at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. The first two units, OL1 and OL2, were commissioned in 1978 and 1980, respectively. During 2021, the Olkiluoto facility produced 14.4 terrawatt hours of power, roughly one sixth of Finland’s total electricity consumption.

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The newly completed reactor is expected to help Finland cut its reliance on power imports from Sweden and Norway, and make up for the supplies lost after Russia stopped power exports to the country last May, when Russian utility Inter RAO stopped receiving payments for electricity sold to Finland via the pan-European exchange Nord Pool.

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April 16, 2023 at 01:49PM

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