Finland’s latest reactor delay raises concerns over winter power supply

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OSLO (Reuters) – A further two-month delay for Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor, which was originally due to come on stream in 2009, poses a risk to electricity supplies this winter in the absence of Russian imports, network operator Fingrid said on Thursday.

The test operations, suspended in April, will not resume until the end of July, the operator Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) announced on Wednesday evening.

Regular electricity production from the new 1.6 gigawatt (GW) reactor, which will account for around 15% of Finland’s electricity consumption when fully operational, will now start on December 10 instead of September 30 as previously announced.

“We expected this generation to start even this summer and now it’s delay after delay, so of course the level of risk has increased,” Jukka Ruusunen, head of power grid operator Fingrid, told Reuters.

Fingrid expected Olkiluoto 3 alone to more than compensate for the loss of Russian electricity imports this winter, he added.

Imports of Russian electricity ceased in May after Russian utility Inter RAO said it had not been paid for electricity sold through the pan-European Nord Pool exchange since May 6.

“Without Olkiluoto 3, the situation is quite difficult as that alone would have accounted for more than 10% of peak demand,” Ruusunen said.

Instead, Fingrid will have to rely more on imports from other Nordic countries, the growing national wind farm and a strategic reserve to meet peak demand in January and February, it said. -he adds.

A last resort would be energy rationing, Ruusunen said.

A tighter supply this winter would mainly have an impact on prices, as electricity becomes more expensive, said Marius Holm Rennesund of Oslo-based Thema Consulting.

“But I don’t think there is a risk of rationing,” he said.

Tor Reier Lilleholt, head of analytics at energy research and data firm Volue Insight, said: “It’s when it’s very cold and there’s little wind that you would have a challenge. .”

The reason for the further delay at Olkiluoto 3 was checks and repairs after “foreign material” was found in the turbine’s steam heater, TVO said on Wednesday, without giving details of the nature of the foreign material.

Under construction since 2005, Olkiluoto 3 encountered several technical problems, triggering a legal battle between TVO and its partners, the French Areva and the German Siemens.

(Reporting by Nora Buli; Editing by Alison Williams)


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