Test production recently ended at Finland’s evolutionary power reactor (EPR)-powered Olkiluoto (OL) 3 power plant and it officially began regular power generation as of Sunday, April 16th.
Marjo Mustonen, senior vice-president for electricity production at Finnish utility provider Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), declared that the beginning of regular production at the plant marks the beginning of a new era for the Finnish power sector as the company now comes closer to delivering its promise of greener, more sustainable electricity to the country.
For his part, TVO president and CEO Jarmo Tanhua see the operation of OL3 as a vital part of Finland’s transition to green power. He referred to the shift to nuclear power from fossil-fueled power generation as a key advantage for the country.
Now that it’s up and running OL3 is expected to produce around 15% of the country’s total power consumption. Together with other generators in the Olkiluoto site, it will play a role in generating 30% of Finland’s total electricity.
A Milestone a Year in the Making
The first criticality for OL3 was achieved back in December 2021, while the reactor itself was linked to Finland’s power grid on March 12th last year. This led to a test production phase for the 1600 MWe pressurized water EPR which was subjected to 3,300 tests, generating over 9,000 post-testing reports.
Test production ran into a delay when some material that detached from the reactor’s steam guide plates ended up in the steam reheater of the turbine in May 2022. This called for a shutdown while an inspection and repairs were conducted. Work teams also found damage within the feedwater pumps in the process of doing repairs.
Despite those issues, OL3 began operating at full capacity last September.
Finland’s OL3 EPR is not the only one in Europe, as there are currently two EPR initiatives currently under construction in France and the United Kingdom.
France’s Flamanville 3 could be switched on within this year and begin commercial operations by next year. Britain’s Hinkley Point C plant has two units that are set to be connected to the grid in 2027 and 2028.
Likewise, these plants are not the only EPR-equipped ones in place. China’s first EPR units came online at a plant in Taishan back in 2018, with Unit I becoming the first to go into commercial operation. Taishan’s Unit II came online operationally in September of the following year.