Court Rules Finnish Fennovoima Backers Can Exit Project

A court ruling in Finland has opened the door for a flight of Finnish investors from the Fennovoima nuclear plant project that is slated for Pyhajoki on the Hanhikivi peninsula on the country's west coast on the Gulf of Bothnia.

Fennovoima NPP envisionedA Finnish court ruled that it was permissible for retailer Kesko Oyj to opt out of its share of the project, which opens the door for other Finnish concerns to back away from their commitments, as well. This could tip the scales against the project entirely, as the government has set the bar at 60 percent Finnish financing to maintain some autonomy over its energy sector. Russian nuclear power company Rosatom, through the subsidiary RAOS Voima Oy, is on board for 34 percent of the project, which would deploy Russian VVER-1200 technology. A Finnish consortium of over 50 companies banded together as Voimaosakeyhtio SF is responsible for 66 percent of the funding.

Because of the government's 60 percent stipulation, it was argued that Finnish companies that signed on to the project were unable to back down. The court ruled this was not the case.

But concerns are rising that Finnish support for the project could erode passed the deal-breaking point. Finnish dairy Valio with a 1.4 percent stake is expected to back out and media reports indicate that others may do so. Already, German utility E.ON and Swedish metals industrial Boliden have broken ranks and left the project.

The project, despite the second-thoughts among backers, has support of the local population, a Voimaosakeyhito SF survey found.

According to a December 2016 survey of 855 randomly selected people, 67.4 percent of the residents of Pyhajoki are in favor of the new plant, where preliminary site work was begun in 2016.

In a more regional survey, 62 percent of the residents including those from nearby municipalities of Kalajoki, Merijarvi, Oulainen and Raahe approved of the plant. Support has declined just 0.7 percent from a similar survey done in 2015, the consortium found.

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