The Finnish government has granted Fortum an extension to the operating licence for the two-unit Loviisa nuclear power plant, allowing the plant to continue generating power until the end of 2050.

Loviisa units 1 and 2 (Image: Fortum)

The Loviisa plant - comprising two VVER-440 type pressurised water reactors - was the first nuclear power plant in Finland and currently provides more than 10% of the country's electricity. Loviisa unit 1 began commercial operation in 1977, with unit 2 following in 1981. The operating licences for the units were renewed in 1998 and 2007, respectively.

Fortum submitted an application in March 2022 to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (MEAE) to operate both units until the end of 2050. The current operating licences expire at the end of 2027 and 2030, respectively. The company has also applied for a licence to operate the low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste disposal facility located at the Loviisa site until 2090.

Over the past five years, Fortum has invested some EUR300 million (USD321 million) in refurbishing the Loviisa plant. When announcing the decision to apply for a licence extension in March last year, Fortum estimated that investments related to continuing of the operations and the lifetime extension will amount to approximately EUR1 billion until 2050.

"The government's view is that it is well-founded to continue the operations of the Loviisa power plant for reasons of security of electricity supply in Finland," MEAE said in a statement. "The plant strengthens Finland's self-sufficiency in electricity, which contributes to lowering the price level of electricity in Finland, thus benefiting households, businesses and all other electricity users."

In addition to the licence extension until 2050, the ministry also granted an operating licence for the two units until the end of 2055, "as required by preparations for their decommissioning". Fortum was also granted an operating licence to use the buildings and warehouses necessary for nuclear fuel and nuclear waste management, with the necessary extensions, until the end of 2090.

"This decision is an important and welcome one not only for Fortum, but for a clean and prosperous future for Finland," said Fortum President and CEO Markus Rauramo. "Continuing production at Loviisa is above all an investment in providing the power the Finnish society needs to meet its ambitious climate targets. Decarbonisation of our industries requires large volumes of clean and reliable electricity that cannot be covered by new additional and intermittent sources only. At the same time, nuclear as a stable production form, is also a key enabler for growth of wind and solar in the Nordic power system."

Fortum estimates that over the course of the new licence period, the Loviisa plant will generate up to 170 TWh of CO2-free electricity.

"The public acceptability of nuclear power is high in our core markets, Finland and Sweden, and we are pleased to have excellent relations with the City of Loviisa and the surrounding communities," Rauramo said. "In parallel with the life-time extension, we are carrying out a thorough assessment of the economic viability of building new nuclear to Finland and/or Sweden. The feasibility study, to be completed next year, focuses on the technical, economic and societal preconditions that must be in place for Fortum to consider such a new large and long-term investment."

MEAE said Fortum's application to operate the low- and intermediate-level waste facility at Loviisa until 2090 is under preparation in the ministry and will be decided on by the government in the coming months.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 18 February 2023
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Fortum-granted-licence-extension-for-Loviisa