First Criticality Reached In Finland

The first criticality of the EPR reactor installed at unit 3 of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland was achieved on 21 December, power utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) announced.

plant start upTVO said a new nuclear power plant was last commissioned in Finland more than four decades ago. OL3 will generate about 14%  of Finland's electricity after the start of regular electricity generation.

“This moment will be remembered forever as a sign of the hard work to put our new plant unit into operation. It speaks of the strong professionalism in the nuclear industry and the desire to make Finland's largest climate work a reality,” said Marjo Mustonen, TVO Production Director. OL3 project manager Jouni Silvennoinen said OL3 will be connected to the national electricity grid in January 2022.

After start-up, the power level will be increased step by step with commissioning tests performed at each power level. Electricity production will start at a capacity of 30%, or about 500MWe, at the end of January 2022. OL3's regular electricity production will begin in June 2022.  

While the Olkiluoto 3 construction project can be viewed as an embarrassment for the time delays and cost overruns, it is also a monument to the industry’s insistence that large-scale nuclear plants need to meet exacting specifications or the power won’t be turned on. Construction of Olkiluoto 3 began in 2005 and the original schedule sited operations starting in 2009. The industry now calls this a learning process and this is not an apology; it’s a bragging point. The delays are costly by the pushing forward irresponsibly is more so.

“We commend the TVO teams for this significant milestone and we thank the Framatome and Areva project teams that persevered to reach it. This milestone paves the way for safe, reliable, low-carbon electricity generation to the residents of Finland,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO of Framatome.

“We are honored to support this unit in reaching its full potential,” he said.

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