In what many perceive as a controversial opinion, Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilš opened this year’s Nordic Nuclear Forum by saying Europe’s attempts to be carbon-neutral and self-sufficient in terms of clean energy will not be possible if nuclear power isn’t part of the equation.
At the Forum’s opening ceremonies held in Helsinki last June 7th, Lintilš declared that nuclear power has its own role to play when it comes to renewable energy; in which case, nations must continue using any nuclear power plants currently in operation. He added that nuclear power is a key part of Finland’s clean energy production strategy which aims to ensure the country’s carbon neutrality by 2035.
Lintilš cited several Finnish nuclear initiatives which are currently in progress. Power company Fortum, for example, has applied to continue operating its power plants in Loviisa. The nuclear company Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), on the other hand, achieved first criticality for its Olkiluoto 3 plant last December; the plant was officially connected to the Finnish national power grid in March of this year. However, the regular generation of electricity has been held off until September 2022.
One reason why Finland has been vocal about the use of nuclear power in the context of renewable energy is the way its citizens have supported any measures regarding its use.
For Lintilš, this serves as proof that the end-users of electric power are also stakeholders when it comes to generating clean energy for mainstream use. That said, he opined that ordinary citizens also needed to be heard when measures pertaining to sustainable power are concerned.
Finland’s energy sector is presently mulling over the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) as a possible solution to the ongoing energy crisis. At the moment, however, SMRs have yet to be made available for commercial use, but the Finnish government is already gearing up by developing regulations as to their use. For Lintilš, the most relevant factors that need to be taken into consideration are safety, economic viability, and regulated use.
The minister has advised his regional counterparts that it is necessary to understand the dynamics of long-term investment into clean energy solutions, taking these into account when it comes to regulating any financing for the green power sector.
Finland has factored nuclear power into these investments and is currently looking into radioactive waste management in the context of regulatory technologies.
Lintilš opined further that nuclear waste management and the decommissioning of outdated nuclear facilities need to be handled in a consistent and timely manner.