Operating licence extensions for Olkiluoto units

20 September 2018

The Finnish government has approved a 20-year extension to the operating licences of units 1 and 2 at Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj's (TVO's) Olkiluoto nuclear power plant.

Olkiluoto units 1 and 2 (Image: TVO)

The new licence will replace TVO's current operating licences, issued in 1998, which are valid until the end of this year. The two units - both 890 MWe boiling water reactors - are now permitted to operate until the end of 2038.

In addition, TVO was also granted a licence to use the current on-site storage facilities for the interim storage of used fuel and other radioactive wastes generated through the continued operation of Olkiluoto 1 and 2. The new operating licence does not cover the operation of final disposal facilities, which will require their own licences. However, the government attached to the operating licence a set of conditions relating to waste management and used fuel storage. One of the conditions allows TVO to use the Olkiluoto site to process and store low- and intermediate-level waste, along with other radioactive waste, generated elsewhere.

The utility submitted its operating licence application to the government in January 2017. To prepare the licence decision, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) requested statements from several ministries and certain authorities and communities. Altogether 50 authorities, local governments, other organisations and private individuals voiced their opinion.

When considering whether TVO met the conditions for granting an operating licence, the government based its decision especially on the favourable statement and security assessment submitted by the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) on 31 May. On Stuk's proposal, the government also included a requirement within the licence conditions that a periodic safety review of Olkiluoto 1 and 2 is conducted by the end of 2028.

"For TVO, the favourable decision means that electricity production will continue in Olkiluoto at the OL1 and OL2 plant units for at least the next 20 years," said Marjo Mustonen, senior vice president in charge of electricity production at TVO. "The decision is welcome also in terms of climate friendly electricity production and Finnish self-sufficiency."

TEM said: "The government's view is that it is well founded to continue the operations of the Olkiluoto units for reasons of security of electricity supply in Finland. The Finnish industry needs a secure supply of electricity and predictable process to remain competitive. The continued operation of nuclear power plants will also contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and mitigating climate change in ways that are in society's best interests."

Olkiluoto units 1 and 2 - which began operating in 1979 and 1982, respectively - currently meet one-sixth of Finland's electricity demand. TVO noted that once the EPR under construction as Olkiluoto unit 3 begins power generation the plant will account for about 30%.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News