TVO to Boost Output at Olkiluoto Nuclear Reactor in Finland

Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, Finland’s biggest nuclear operator, is considering increasing output from its Olkiluoto reactors in 2017, bolstering Finland’s energy independence.

The company may boost capacity at two 880-megawatt units in 2017, increasing net electricity output at the plant, Lauri Inna, a spokesman for the Helsinki-based power producer, said today by phone from the reactor site without providing further details.

The increase may support the nation’s energy-intensive pulp, chemicals and basic metals industries, which contribute twice the European average to the economy, according to the International Energy Agency. Finland embraced nuclear power in the 1970s to cut its dependence on imports from the Soviet Union, because it lacks the oil and hydropower supplies of neighbors. Imports accounted for 16 percent of the nation’s consumption in 2011, with 78 percent coming from Russia, according to the country’s power industries association.

“It will be a natural step to assess whether a further, much bigger boost will be possible to implement in five years by modifying the reactor generators, something we’ve done twice in the past, on the condition however that we can maintain safety and high utilization rates,” Inna said.

The company, co-owned by Finland’s biggest utility, Fortum Oyj, operates two nuclear stations that supply 17 percent of the nation’s demand. TVO raised installed capacity at the units by 20 megawatts each in 2010 and 2011 by investing 160 million euros ($206 million) into improving power turbines. It has a third atomic unit under construction, set to be the world’s biggest and a fourth facility is planned.

Swedish Upgrades

The Nordic region’s reactors, 10 in Sweden and four in Finland, which generate about 20 percent of the electricity used in the area, are all set to produce power on Dec. 3, resulting in the highest output since May 2005, when Sweden’s Barsebaeck plant was decommissioned, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from Svenska Kraftnaet AB, the Swedish grid operator.

Vattenfall AB, the Nordic region’s biggest utility, has boosted capacity at its three Forsmark reactors to more than 1,000 megawatts each. The Olkiluoto plants were built by the same supplier, Sweden’s Asea-Atom AB.

“It’s not yet possible to say whether we can achieve the same kind of capacity in Olkiluoto,” Inna said. “It remains to be seen when we’ve completed our pre-planning work for the possible upgrades.”

The Olkiluoto stations are partly owned by paper makers UPM-Kymmene Oyj and Stora Enso Oyj, as well as municipal energy companies and industrial consumers.

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