Europe's largest nuclear plant begins production, as Germany bids farewell

Finland's Olkiluoto 3 reactor will meet 14% of the country's energy requirements.
Jijo Malayil
Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant
Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant


In a fillip to furthering energy security in Europe, its largest nuclear plant, Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) in Finland, has started producing power. The development comes shortly after Germany announced that it is shutting down its remaining three reactors. 

Europe remains divided on the use of nuclear power due to safety concerns, as it looks towards greener solutions to replace conventional sources of energy generation. 

Meanwhile, the reactor alone, the country's first new plant in four decades, is slated to produce enough energy to fulfil 14% of Finland's electricity demand, helping the nation reduce its dependence on energy imports from Sweden and Norway. The war in Ukraine has strained Russia's relationship with Europe, with Russia halting energy exports to Finland last May.

The OL3 is operated by a Finnish clean energy firm called Teollisuuden Voima (TVO). The company claims the plant will produce energy for at least the next 60 years. The construction of the plant unit was done under a fixed-price turnkey contract.

"The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilizes the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition. The electrification of the society continues and environmentally friendly electricity production is undoubtedly one of the top trump cards that Finland has", said Jarmo Tanhua, president and CEO of TVO, in a statement

Olkiluoto to produce 30 percent of Finnish electricity

The operational status of OL3 has ensured that three nuclear reactors on the island of Olkiluoto will now be able to meet 30 percent of Finland's energy demands. The introduction of the plant is slated to help Finland become almost self-sufficient in terms of its energy needs. Moreover, the country hopes the transition will also accelerate its move towards a carbon-neutral society.

The OL3 reactor is designed to generate 1,600 MW of electricity, enough to power approximately 2 million households. The construction of the plant began in 2005, and it was originally scheduled to be completed in 2009. However, due to various delays and technical problems, the project was delayed multiple times.

According to TVO, the "plant unit is intrinsically operated at full power output" and the first annual outage is scheduled for March 2024.

Delays and technical glitches

The Olkiluoto 3 project employed 80 nationalities. At its height, workers on the site reached 4,500. According to TVO, the trial production period alone comprised some 3,300 tests with more than 9,000 test reports. 

According to Reuters, OL3 had initiated a test to supply energy to Finland's national power grid in March last year, but multiple breakdowns and outages caused a delay of several months. 

Once the results of the latest test production phase are analyzed, the operator will initiate the necessary steps to commence commercial production.

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