Finland’s Fennovoima has issued a progress report on the Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant project, detailing developments in 2019.
A 1200MWe AES-2006 VVER reactor is planned for the Hanhikivi site in northern Finland. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom's subsidiary Rusatom Overseas signed the plant supply contract for Hanhikivi 1 with Fennovoima in 2013. RAOS Voima Oy, the Finnish subsidiary set up by Rosatom in 2014 holds a 35% stake in the project.
Fennovoima said that during 2019 it had "reprogrammed" the operations both within the company and throughout the project.
“The changes have brought significant progress in different areas of the power plant design and preparatory work.”
“As part of the development efforts, Fennovoima's organisation has been restructured, and responsibilities have been clarified, particularly between technical and project operations."
A new approach now sees design solutions as well as the entire project examined in stages, taking into consideration the whole plant lifecycle.
Fennovoima’s COO and interim CEO Timo Okkonen said 2019 was a successful year.
“During the year, we resolved key plant-level safety issues together with the plant supplier. Based on this work, we could state that our Hanhikivi 1 plant design will support a very high level of nuclear safety and security."
Fennovoima also submitted the first batch of the preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) to the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) in 2019. This marked the start of the technical construction licence activities.
Preparing for construction
By the end of 2019, Fennovoima had reviewed most of the systems' design and started to review building layouts. Preparation for the future construction and operation phases also begun.
The report’s introducton, Okkonen said 2019 was one of marked by co-operation and progress.
“We started the year by launching our development programme, with the target of reprogramming both ourselves and our plant supplier RAOS Project Oy [part of Rosatom]."
This was necessary "due to the severe project delays that we had faced during the previous years," Okkonen added.
The first priority was “to resolve plant-level safety issues, ranging from bedrock and site uncertainties to major plant design and layout solutions”. By the end of the year, “we could state that our Hanhikivi 1 plant design will support a very high level of nuclear safety and security, with well-defined open items to be closed during the engineering and licensing process”.
The second priority was to start reviewing the plant systems and buildings design. “A new technical co-operation plan was prepared together with the plant supplier, to agree on a multi-stage basic design process and related quality plans."
By year end, Fennovoima had reviewed most of the systems design and started to review building layouts.
The third and fourth priorities related to the preparations for the construction and operational phases of the plant lifecycle.
For these, and for the safety and design priorities, “we developed new approaches and acceptance criteria in meetings which we call Fennoforums”.
In 2019 Fennovoima faced the challenge of reviewing a large amount
of plant design documentation. “We have now achieved a more proactive mode of leading the project and our operations. In practice, this means that we do not only react to problems, but we can see the big picture and prepare ourselves for the next stages," said Okkonen.
The 55-page report noted that preparatory construction work continued at the plant site in 2019 and at the end of the year, an average of 230 people were working on site.
“During 2019, the plant supplier commissioned both the accommodation village and the plant supplier’s and the main contractor’s site offices; work on staff facilities and the site canteen continued."
"Construction work of the reinforcement workshop and the surface treatment building began in 2019. Groundwork for the plant supplier’s storage area was started in the area located behind the accommodation village.”
In the sea areas, the plant supplier continued with the water construction work and dredging of the cooling water discharge channel and the cooling water intake structures.
“Construction of the breakwaters and a cofferdam for the cooling water discharge channel continued. Over the course of the year, Fennovoima started the construction of a grounding network that will cover the entire construction site."
Soil investigations were also carried out in the turbine island area.
In June, Fennovoima signed a contract on the construction of the administration building and plant office with Lehto Group, with construction expected to start in 2020.
Improving safety culture
The report notes improvements in safety culture. A survey carried out among those working at the site concluded that “with the exception of transparency, the safety culture principles were implemented reasonably well in the project area”.
The survey results and observations over the course of the year also suggested that “cooperation between the companies operating in the project area should be further improved” and “transparency of decision-making and the operating methods must be increased”, although cooperation between the key parties to develop the safety culture had clearly increased.
“Now, Fennovoima, RAOS Project, and Titan-2 all have an expert who works full time on the development of the project area safety culture. This has enabled more effective processing of safety culture matters. In 2020, we will focus on actions to increase transparency between the companies.” The next safety culture assessment will be in late 2020 or in early 2021.
According to the report, an availability project began in 2019 to verify that Hanhikivi 1 will produce at least the volume of electricity specified in the plant supply contract.
“During the year, we analysed the availability of VVER plants based on operating experience feedback data,” said Ville Määttä project manager, Availability Maintenance.
“We presented dozens of improvement proposals based on the analysis results and the expertise of our employees to further improve the availability of the plant,” he said, adding that the current plant design does not yet correspond to the availability requirements specified for the plant.
“We have therefore proposed modifications to the plant supplier to improve the plant’s availability. Above all, the modifications aim at improving maintainability and shortening planned maintenance outages. The proposed modifications involve some of the systems and components to be purchased, for instance, and are based on methods, technologies, or practices that have been used and found functional in nuclear power plants elsewhere in the world.”
Määttä noted that plant design is proceeding at a fast pace and the farther the design proceeds, the more challenging the implementation of any changes important in terms of availability will become.
“In 2020, we will ensure that the plant layout does not include any factors hindering availability that would be extremely difficult or impossible to correct through design modifications at a later point in time."
"From layout, we will gradually proceed to studying smaller entities all the way to the optimisation of component-specific maintenance actions. Naturally, the impact of any modifications of the smaller entities will have a smaller impact on the capacity factor.”
The most important document of the year will be the first availability analysis report which will analyse the design phase capacity factor of the plant. This will be the first official capacity factor of the plant.
“I’m confident that we will reach our capacity factor goal despite the fact that we detected the availability challenges regrettably late,” said Määttä. “I’m more confident because the plant supplier is committed to finding solutions to the availability issues. The benefits from improved availability are mutual – we will reach our availability goals and the plant supplier will end up with a better plant design.”
Photo: Proposed Hanhikivi nuclear power plant (Credit: Fennovoima)