Introducing the 2020 report by Finnish company Fennovoima, CEO Joachim Specht said the Hanhikivi 1 project “is picking up speed and progressing well”. The Hanhikivi-1 project provides for the construction in Pyhajoki of a single-unit nuclear power plant based on a Russian-design VVER-1200 generation 3+ reactor. The project is currently at the stage of licensing and preparatory work is underway at the NPP construction site. A construction licence is expected in 2021. RAOS Project Oy is the general supplier under the EPC contract signed with Fennovoima on in 2013. RAOS Project, a 100% subsidiary of REIN JSC (part of Rosatom), was established in Finland in 2015 to implement the project.

“During the year, we almost completed the first review phase of the plant's basic design documentation,” said Specht. “At this stage, we focused on plant safety and the plant's ability to generate the required amount of electricity. The work done shows that the plant's technical characteristics will provide us a safe and excellent power plant.”

He added that this spring plant supplier RAOS Project, other parties involved in the plant design, and Fennovoima will work hard “to achieve the level required by the construction licence” with particular focus will on design integrity and plant availability. He said the work aiming for the construction licence had “progressed significantly during the year”. By the end of 2020, six out of 15 documentation batches had been submitted to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, the most important being documentation describing the plant's key safety functions.

“We know that our goal to obtain the construction licence by the end of 2021 is challenging. However, we have a clear vision for the future and comprehensive plans for how we will proceed with the project,” Specht said. Construction readiness is Fennovoima’s principal target for 2021.

One of the main obstacles to constructing facilities in the nuclear sector is that the industry has not been able to agree on a common approach and harmonise regulation internationally, Specht noted. This is why project costs often increase. He stressed the need to work closely with RAOS Project to look for solutions together. “For the first time ever, Fennovoima and RAOS Project agreed on joint targets for 2021, driving even further the ‘One Team’ approach,” he said. The year 2021 “will be even more challenging than previous years”. The focus is on three factors: “obtaining the construction licence, ensuring a high availability factor of the plant, and Fennovoima's readiness for safe and efficient construction”.

The 56-page report emphasised the importance of co-operation with with the plant supplier to ensure necessary design adjustments. “Our project is huge. Our success depends on the capability of the plant supplier and all their partners and subcontractors to deliver on time and with the required quality,” it said. The main delivery scopes may be divided into engineering and licensing, procurement and supply chain, construction and installation, and commissioning and training. In the operational phase, there will also be a need for nuclear fuel supply and other supporting services. “The supplier’s capability to deliver requires constant and proactive attention from our side.”

Utility Operations Director Janne Liuko said the project “has progressed well over the last couple of years”. By the end of 2020, almost all reviews had been completed of the basic design and layout design of the plant and considerable progress had been made in reviewing of the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report. “Together with RAOS Project, we have found solutions to the issues that were still open a year ago,” he said. “For instance, the issues were related to the primary circuit, containment, and defence-in-depth. Based on experimental tests we have conducted, we also believe that the new passive residual heat removal systems for the containment will do their job well.”

While there were still many things to resolve, “overall, the basic design of the Hanhikivi 1 plant is now steaming ahead”. During the spring 2021, “we will move forward to review, for the first time, plant-level issues such as operability, operating costs, design integrity, and implementation feasibility”. However, “we do not expect any significant changes to the plant's concept”.

As the construction phase approaches, “We are evaluating Rosatom's traditional way of delivering facilities and clarifying expectations and requirements related to the Finnish environment in order to focus our development measures on the right things,” said Liuko. “We are also looking for opportunities to facilitate the progress of the project. For example, licensing high-quality components that are serially manufactured by well-known industry standards for safety-classified equipment can bring significant benefits to project implementation and plant operation.”

The report said the main contractor Titan-2 had provided a development plan for construction readiness and had developed its operations and safety culture during 2020. “We require them to continue the systematic development of their operations. We extended the supplier approval of Titan-2 by two years.”

The manufacturing of the turbine generator rotor forging was completed by Japan Steelworks and approved after the final inspection in Japan. “The part will be transported for machining at the GE Steam Power (previously called GE Alstom) factory in Belfort, France. The manufacturing of the reactor pressure vessel forgings will start in 2021.”

The report noted that traditionally, VVER plants in Russia have not achieved capacity factors similar to that required from Hanhikivi 1. “We will ensure that Hanhikivi 1 will produce at least the amount of electricity agreed in the plant supply contract. We have received the first design-phase estimate on the current capacity factor of the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant, and at the end of the year, we also received the first official availability calculation for the whole plant. We will evaluate the accuracy of the availability estimate while reviewing the basic design documentation for the nuclear island. The actual Hanhikivi 1-specific availability calculation can only be made once the detailed design of the plant is complete.”

RAOS Project and the main designer Atomproekt had demonstrated the maintainability of buildings important to availability and safety, the report said. “During the second stage of basic design in 2021, we will process nearly all buildings in the plant area room by room at the system level. We will gradually proceed to examining smaller entities all the way to the optimisation of component-specific maintenance.”

Fennovoima has also “analysed the schedule for the planned outages of the nuclear island, which will define the annual cycle of the whole plant, i.e. the duration of planned outages”. The plant supplier “has proposed some improvements that would have an impact on the duration of planned outages, such as changes to the refuelling machine’s speeds, advanced tools for opening the pressure vessel and changes to the maintenance cycles of the reactor coolant pumps”. Work to verify the effects of the changes will last until spring 2021.

“In 2021, RAOS Project will deliver the schedules for planned outages that concern the whole plant for us to review” as well as. information based on operating experience from the Leningrad-II 2 reference plant regarding planned maintenance. “In addition, we will receive for our examination availability analyses for different component types, such as heat exchangers, cooling systems and steam systems, so that we will also be able to evaluate the availability of the components separately.”

Kim Stålhandske, Operational Readiness Manager, said, “We have begun to define the functions of the plant's operating organisation and related goals in cooperation with Fennovoima's various units.” According to the plant delivery EPC contract, RAOS Project is responsible for the technical training of Fennovoima's personnel but there have been language and cultural challenges in identifying training needs and implementing the training,” he noted, adding that the experiences of other nuclear power projects around the world have shown that linguistic challenges have often led to the failure of training activities. “That is why we are now supporting the plant supplier more than planned in the development of training.”

At the beginning of 2021, Fennovoima launched a technical training programme specifically for experts evaluating the plant design which basically supports the second stage of the basic design and its review. “In addition, the training will help Fennovoima's organisation prepare for the plant's 60-year operating phase in the future,” he said.