HPC’s Nordic Cousin Olkiluoto 3 Goes Online

Brian Allan

Brian Allan, MD, Chartered Surveyor, Construction Claims Specialist and practicing Expert Witness at QSI Consultancy Group reflects on the news that the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finland has now entered into commercial operations. 

Olkiluoto 3 Commences Commercial Operations

Plant owner Teollisuuden Voima (“TVO”) announced on 16 April 2023 that its Olkiluoto 3 (“OL3”) 1600 MW nuclear power plant had commenced regular electricity production, almost 20 years after the commencement of the project.  The supplier consortium companies comprise AREVA GmbH, AREVA NP SAS, and Siemens AG.  TVO hailed this milestone as “Finland’s greatest climate act”.  The plant will meet about 14% of Finland’s electricity requirements and is currently Europe’s largest power plant, with a design life of 60 years.

The Relevance of OL3 to HPC

The two Hinkley Point C units share the same EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) technology with OL3.  No doubt, HPC has already benefited from lessons learned on the OL3 project.  The respective plant owners will also benefit from the continuing expansion of the EPR fleet, throughout the lifetime of the plants. 

The fleet currently includes the Taishan 1 and 2 units in China and it is reported that the Flammanville 3 EPR unit will come online in 2024.  To be followed of course in the coming years by two EPR units at Sizewell C, here in the U.K.  This expanding EPR fleet will enable sharing of experiences and resources, amongst other opportunities to collaborate. 

The History of the OL3 Project

The project substantially commenced in 2004 with a planned completion of 2009.  The first-of-a-kind (“FOAK”) plant suffered various delays during the project period, which resulted in arbitration proceedings between the parties during the project execution period.  The case was substantially settled by agreement. 

Progress milestones during the project include: 2003 – investment decision; 2004 – site and excavation work; 2005 – construction commences; 2009 – generator installed​; 2009 – reactor dome installed​; 2010 – reactor pressure vessel (RPV) installed​; 2013 – installation works 75% complete; 2016 – operating license application submitted; 2018 – hot functional tests completed; 2019 – operating license granted; 2021 – fuel loading; 2023 – regular electricity production.

Manpower on site at the peak was 4,500, with people from more than 80 countries involved.

Many of the problems encountered on the project have been reported in the press, therefore they are not repeated here.  Nevertheless, there remained a determination amongst the project participants to ensure that the plant was ultimately completed.

The Author’s Involvement in OL3

I have been involved in the contract management of the project since 2007, including 5 years full-time on site.  Despite the challenges that the project has faced, it has been a tremendous experience to have worked on OL3 (and indeed to have lived in Finland).

The technology involved is fascinating and it was inspiring to see the commitment amongst the respective supplier and owner teams to overcome hurdles and reach the goal of commercial operations.

Conclusions

No doubt similar experiences and memories are being created on the HPC project now and in the years to come.  The entering of the OL3 plant into commercial operations can only serve to support the successful completion of the HPC project.

Brian Allan – QSI Consultancy Group

31 May 2023

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