Fortum has applied to the Finnish government for a decision-in-principle on its proposed new-build project, a third unit at the existing Loviisa site.

Fortum has not decided on a design for its proposed 1000-1800MWe plant, presenting five different alternatives in its application for a decision-in-principle. However the company has said that the plant will have a designed service life of at least 60 years and cost €4-6 billion ($5-8 billion). It will be financed privately, without any public funding. Fortum has said that Loviisa 3 – located close to Helsinki – will be “designed to allow for combined heat and power production.”

Construction is slated to begin in 2010, with a 2020 startup envisaged. Existing solutions will be used to dispose of the plant’s waste – the repository on Hästholmen island will be expanded to store low and intermediate level wastes, and spent fuel will be placed in a final repository at Olkiluoto.

TVO and Fennovoima are also vying to build Finland’s sixth unit. All three companies have submitted Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports to the country’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE). The next hurdle on the route to building a new plant is the attainment of a government decision-in-principle. TVO submitted its application for a decision-in-principle on a fourth unit at the Olkiluoto site in April 2008 and Fennovoima’s followed in the middle of last month.

Fennovoima’s application is for a new power station of 1500-2500MWe, comprising one or two units, starting up by 2020. Three possible locations: Hanhikivi in the municipality of Pyhäjoki, Gäddbergsö in the municipality of Ruotsinpyhtää and Karsikko in the municipality of Simo, have been chosen for the plant. As well as the reactors, the power plant would include buildings and storage facilities for managing spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste, as well as a final repository for the disposal of low-level and medium-level reactor waste arising from plant operations.

Fennovoima has shortlisted three alternative designs for the new plant: the EPR pressurised water reactor and SWR 1000 boiling water reactor from Areva, and Toshiba’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR).

A positive government decision-in-principle, which must then be ratified by the Finnish parliament, is a prerequisite for any nuclear power plant construction in Finland. As part of the decision-in-principle process, MEE will request a preliminary safety assessment on each project from Finland’s radiation and nuclear safety authority (STUK) and invite statements from the municipalities of the potential plant sites. The government will then make its decision-in-principle, depending on whether it considers the project to be in line with the overall interests of society, after which the Finnish parliament can confirm or overrule it.

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