Finland, which two months in the past thought it might have the ability to get via the winter with out vitality issues due to the saving entry into service of the EPR Olkiluoto3, finds itself in a fragile state of affairs following the brand new glitch encountered mid -October on the nuclear reactor. Whereas no timetable for a potential delay within the common commissioning, scheduled for December, had been communicated to this point, it won’t start, on the earliest, earlier than the tip of January, introduced Finnish operator TVO, stating that the investigation into the harm to the water provide pumps at Olkiluoto 3 “would proceed for a couple of extra weeks”. A blow for the Finnish State which can subsequently must do with out its EPR for all or a part of the winter (which has already began in Finland), understanding that it isn’t proof against a brand new shift . As a reminder, common manufacturing was resulting from begin this summer time, however was postponed to December after “overseas materials” was noticed within the turbine’s steam burner.
Stopping Russian electrical energy deliveries
The blow is all of the harsher for Finland because the Scandinavian nation was relying on its new EPR, probably the most highly effective in Europe with a capability of 1,600 megawatts, to compensate for the cessation of Russian electrical energy deliveries determined by Moscow after the announcement of Finland’s candidacy for NATO in Might. These accounted for round 900 MW, or 10% of Finnish consumption. To make up for this lack, the Finnish State has already needed to function reserve oil-fired energy stations final month. Sweden also can present it with as much as 2,400 megawatts, however hardly extra as a result of it’s itself confronted with the chance of shortages and repeatedly depends on reserve oil-fired energy stations.
This new incident comes because the reactor had reached its full capability on September 30 for the primary time because the announcement of its building in 2003. At the moment, it alone produced roughly 20% of the electrical energy consumed in Finland (40% by including the 2 present Olkiluoto 1 and a pair of reactors). At first of October, there remained about ten full-power exams on Olkiluoto 3, throughout which the reactor will periodically cease producing for a number of days and even weeks.
Nearly 13 years of setbacks
This new downside provides to the lengthy checklist of disappointments encountered by this reactor constructed by the Franco-German consortium Areva-Siemens. This had began final March 12 years late and an extended sequence of failures and setbacks which partly defined the heavy restructuring of Areva. As early as 2006, three years after the announcement of the beginning of building, delays within the building of the primary cooling pipe had already postponed the start-up of the reactor to 2010-2011. The Finnish nuclear security company STUK then requested in 2009 a number of hundred enhancements resulting from “issues associated to building”, opening a battle between the operator of the long run reactor, the Finnish TVO, and Areva-Siemens, with additionally criticism of the Finnish policeman. After a number of years of litigation and extra delays, Areva lastly settled its dispute with TVO in November 2018, paying compensation of 450 million euros.
Regardless of this fiasco, assist for civilian nuclear energy has grown lately in Finland, spurred by local weather issues and international vitality tensions. In response to a ballot revealed in Might, 60% of Finns are actually in favor of it, a report. For the reason that cancellation in Might of the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear challenge of the Finnish Fennovoima and the Russian Rosatom, no new nuclear reactor challenge has nevertheless been launched outdoors of OL3.
The disappointments of the EPR
Launched in 1992 as the final word in French nuclear know-how, the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) was designed to revive nuclear vitality in Europe, within the aftermath of the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986. The brand new mannequin was introduced as providing each greater energy and higher security, however its building proves to be a headache, and never solely in Finland. In France, the development of the Flamanville EPR, which started in 2007, was additionally affected by large delays, due specifically to anomalies within the metal cowl and the reactor vessel. The EPR has additionally been chosen for a two-reactor energy plant at Hinkley Level, within the south-west of England, the place the positioning has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. Electrical energy manufacturing is presently deliberate for mid-2027, as an alternative of 2025 initially. In China, two EPRs had been launched on the Taishan energy plant within the south-east of the nation in 2019. One of many reactors, shut down for a 12 months for a sealing downside, resumed manufacturing in August.