A Visit to Olkiluoto 3 – The World’s First EPR™ Project | AREVA North America: Next Energy Blog


Construction at Olkiluoto

Construction at Olkiluoto

by Jarret Adams

Hidden among the tall firs of western Finland, the Olkiluoto 3 project remains hidden from view until we arrived at the site. In fact, the first full view was quite arresting—it is an enormous project and in the bright summer Scandinavian sun quite beautiful.

My visit to the Olkiluoto site last week was as the host of Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. More about that aspect of the visit is below.

The basics of the OL3 project are well-known to the readers of this blog. AREVA and Siemens have partnered to build the first world’s Generation III+ reactor for Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO). It also will be AREVA’s first EPR™ reactor built to produce 1,650 Megawatts, enough CO2-free electricity to power one and a half million Finnish households.

The Finns are a pragmatic people. They choose to build a fifth reactor because in Finland there is not much sun for most of the year, neither is there much wind, geothermal or fossil fuels. They also do not want to rely on Russia for natural gas. Given Finland’s history with Russia, this is understandable. They also want abundant, reliable electricity with a minimal environmental impact. So, they decided to with nuclear energy. And even with all that you may have read about this project, Finland has decided that would like to build another—Ollikuoto 4.

The 4,000 workers at the site have been making excellent progress. They have completed construction of the main control room. In the coming weeks, they will bring in the polar crane that will place items in the massive containment building. By the end of the summer, they plan to lift the dome on the top of the containment, which will mark a major step forward.

Today the civil works at OL3 are approximately 70-75 percent complete and they expect to reach 95 percent by the end of this year. At this point, the work will focus more on installation of components rather than pouring concrete.

Our tour was quite comprehensive—we climbed down into the guts to see the location of the unique core-catcher as well as that of the major components. We then climbed back up to stand inside the containment building to see the liner now complete to the rim of the giant structure. Then we climbed back down under the double wall, each is 1.8 meters at the base, and emerged through the location of the used fuel pool.

We visited the massive reactor vessel, perched in its own shed next to the containment building. Two of the steam generators are complete and waiting at AREVA’s Chalon-St. Marcel plant in France. The other two are being manufactured there as are the reactor’s other major components.

In the turbine building, work is moving along at a clip. The building itself is largely complete and the turbine itself in place. During our visit, workers were welding the cover on the massive Siemens turbine. Our guide from Siemens opined that he believes that producing 1,700 MW here is a good possibility.

Amory and Me at OL3

As readers of this blog have read before, one of AREVA’s guiding principles is to maintain a policy of openness with all of our stakeholders. We are open and forthright about our business and our projects. This is a policy embraced by everyone from our senior management to the rest of our staff. Recently, our CEO Anne Lauvergeon invited Mr. Lovins, a noted critic of the nuclear energy industry, to visit the OL3 project and see it for himself.

So we opened our doors to Mr. Lovins, his wife and mother-in-law (both lovely ladies) and spent a day doing an in-depth tour of the site. The conversations we had were always lively, and we hope that he was impressed with the project. We do not presume this visit will change his 30-year opposition to nuclear energy, but we remain committed to a frank and open exchange of ideas with our stakeholders and to some degree let the work speak for itself.

Mr. Lovins’ visit to OL3 is but one of many visits to our various sites we have done and are doing with folks who are supportive and critical of the nuclear industry. Recently, Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) paid a visit to OL3*. This week, we will host Tom Cochran of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) at our La Hague and MELOX recycling facilities in France. In the end, we believe that this openness is a key to the ongoing success of AREVA and the nuclear energy industry in general.

* We erroneously published earlier that Ed Lyman of UCS had visited OL3. We apologize for the mistake.

Share TAGS: Amory Lovins, AREVA EPR Reactor, AREVA Inc., AREVA North America, Finland, Nuclear Power Plants, Olkiluoto, Rocky Mountain Institute

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