Saturday, February 7, 2009

Nuclear Plant Delayed - Finland

A Generation III nuclear plant under construction in Finland is delayed yet again, setting the new target for completion as 2012. Original startup date was 2009. Link below. Reasons for the delays are unclear to me, but it appears that "construction and safety problems" are the cause, rather than lawsuits brought by nuclear opposition groups.

From, "The Areva-Siemens Consortium stated yesterday [January 13, 2009] that the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant unit is now not scheduled for completion until 2012. The initial target for completing the Finnish project was 2009.

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) stated that the Areva-Siemens Consortium, the turn-key supplier of the 1,600-MW nuclear power plant, filed an arbitration request over delays and overruns in the Olkiluoto 3 project and that the completion date has been delayed until June 2012."

My translation of the "filed an arbitration request" is that the owner, TVO, believes the contractor has breached some aspect or aspects of the construction contract, with the breach causing the delays and cost overruns.

Another source states the project cost now is 5 billion, approximately $6.5 billion U.S. This is a bit below Severance's stated cost of around $7 billion for a 1000 MWe plant. By the time the Finnish reactor is completed, it may well be more than $8 billion. Interest on construction loans adds up very quickly in the latter years of a nuclear power plant project.

UPDATE 1: (May 28, 2009) From the New York Times (of all places!) an update is in on the troubles at the Finnish nuclear plant. Two of the problems are improper concrete used for the reactor building foundation, and holes drilled in the wrong places in the containment shell. The concrete is too porous, and prone to corrosion. The schedule has slipped even further, as this quote shows:

"After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer [2009], Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online."

The article has more to say about costs of new nuclear plants using that same French design, stating:

"Areva has acknowledged that the cost of a new reactor today would be as much as 6 billion euros, or $8 billion, double the price offered to the Finns." One assumes this price does not include construction screw-ups and delays they cause.

Finally, a similar reactor is under construction in Flamanville, France. It has serious construction issues, too, including cracks in the concrete foundation, and steel reinforcements placed in the wrong locations.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.

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