On the shores of the Baltic Sea, beneath the big azure sky of a Nordic spring, Finland’s Olkiluoto-3 nuclear plant looks almost complete. A team of painting contractors streaming out of the red reactor building at the end of their shift are the only external sign that this is still a work in progress. Yet, as the final touches are made to western Europe’s first new nuclear power station for 15 years, its owners have a blunt assessment of progress. “If the nuclear industry wants to have a future it cannot afford more projects like this,” says Pekka Lundmark, chief executive of Fortum, the Finnish power company which owns a 26 per cent stake in TVO, the consortium behind Olkiluoto-3. Areva, the French reactor manufacturer, began building Olkiluoto in 2005 with a target for completion by 2009 at a cost of €3.2bn. The latest timetable would see it open almost a decade late at the end of 2018 and nearly three times over budget at €8.5bn. The EPR was designed with safety as the top priority after the Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine a decade earlier spewed radioactive fallout across Europe. But extra safeguards, such as a concrete dome over the reactor strong enough to withstand an aircraft strike, have proved ruinously expensive to build. EDF and Areva are hoping for a smoother experience at Hinkley Point, where concrete was poured for the first permanent structures in March.
FT 18th May 2017 read more »