Europe’s newest and largest nuclear reactor opened amid energy shortages and protests and is boosting energy independence and lowering energy bills.
- After 18 years of construction and delay due to technical issues, Finland’s 1,600-megawatt Olkilouto 3 nuclear reactor is online and producing power.
- The reactor was connected to the power grid in March and began to produce power on April 16, The Associated Press reports.
- After just a month of operations, it has had a major effect on Finland’s energy. It has already lowered energy costs by 75%, ZeroHedge reports.
- It was created through a joint venture between the French energy company Areva and the German financial-services company Siemens, having been proposed in 2005 and cost an estimated $12 billion.
Why It’s News
The successful launch and operation of the new reactor come amid successful anti-nuclear activism in Europe. It marks the first newly operational nuclear reactor in Western Europe in 15 years, amid widespread effects that recently resulted in the final three nuclear power plants in Germany being permanently shut down on April 15.
Critics of nuclear power argue that the technology is too expensive due to regulatory requirements and decommissioning costs, and its safety record makes it untrustworthy due to the severe consequences of a meltdown. Germany has faced decades of anti-nuclear activism since the 1970s, bolstered by the notable failures at the Chornobyl power plant in Ukraine and the Fukushima power plant in Japan.
As we previously reported, Germany saw its energy prices skyrocket 45% in the aftermath of the closure. As many as two-thirds of Germans have changed their opinions on nuclear and now support extending the lifespan of existing power plants.
Nuclear power is seeing a renewed interest in light of the ongoing challenges in the world. It is one of the few low-emission energy sources widely available and dependable at the moment, and most energy analysts agree that extending the lifespan of nuclear power plants or building new ones will be a necessary step to address climate change and reduce fossil fuel dependency—including the grandson of the creator of the atom bomb.
Finland is already in a strong position from a nuclear power standpoint. Nuclear covers 40% of Finland’s energy, with its newest reactor expected to cover 15% of the entire nation’s power grid. The newly elected conservative National Coalition Party government has also expressed interest in further nuclear energy investments, AP notes.
“The production of Olkiluoto 3 stabilizes the price of electricity and plays an important role in the Finnish green transition. The electricity production volume of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant unit is a significant addition to clean, domestic production,” says TVO CEO Jarmo Tanhua.
“We have had more stability in the system because of OL3. It’s a huge nuclear plant, one of the biggest in the world, connected to a small system. It has its own risks, which we are happy to follow up on,” says Fingrid CEO Jukka Ruusunen.