This article has been updated with comments from RAOS Project

Fennovoima, which is building the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in northern Finland, says it expects to receive a construction licence for the project in 2019, a year later than previously anticipated. However, the developer is confident that the project is moving ‘in the right direction.’

Fennovoima submitted a construction licence application for the VVER-1200 reactor to the Government in the summer of 2015 and is currently supplying the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) with the design documentation of the nuclear power plant for assessment.

“We have reviewed the progress of the work and decided to reschedule our goal to obtain the license for 2019,” said Toni Hemminki, Fennovoima CEO. 

“Taking Finnish requirements and legislation into consideration in the design work has taken more time from the plant supplier than we originally expected.”

Hemminki also noted that Stuk has not been able to carry out its assessment work on the scale they planned. 

RAOS Project, a subsidiary of Rosatom and the plant supplier for the Hanhikivi project, told NEI it has mobilised all the resources, tools and experts necessary to be able to prepare the licence documentation on time. "The 2018 deadline is still feasible on our side… However, we do [appreciate] Finnish rules and existing man hour limitations, and will be ready to handle the situation in case more time is required to review licensing documentation," RAOS Project said in a statement.  

The firm added that it has "overcome initial difficulties related to understanding Finnish rules and building effective interfaces with Fennovoima and Stuk."  In the first half of 2017, the plant supplier and main designer brought nearly 100 experts to Helsinki, which accelerated the work significantly.

Fennovoima remains confident about the future of the Hanhikivi project. ”For us, it is a big advantage that Hanhikivi 1’s reference power plant LAES-2 will be completed in Sosnovy Bor next year. All the latest know-how and experience will be at our disposal during the construction phase,” Hemminki said.

Fennovoima said it would provide a more detailed estimate for the schedule for licensing after consultation with the plant supplier. While RAOS Project remains hopeful the licensing can be completed in 2018, the firm said it would "evaluate the possible impact of the 2019 shift to the project timetable and discuss the results with our Finnish partners."  

According to the previous timetable, Hanhikivi 1 was expected start construction in 2018 and begin commercial operation in 2024. Once operational the reactor will produce around 9TWh of electricity a year, which was equivalent to some 10% of Finland electricity consumption in 2016. 

Photo: Artist's impression of the Hanhikivi project