The Finnish parliament, on 24 May, voted 107 to 92 in favour of building a new nuclear unit. The last time new nuclear build was approved in Europe was by the French government in 1991.

Ratification of the decision in principle launches the next stage in the project. Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) can now continue the preparations of the project and evaluation of the plant alternatives. The utility will finance the construction by itself, with the majority of the money borrowed from capital markets.

TVO president and CEO Mauno Paavola said TVO can now begin negotiations with plant suppliers, finalise bidding documents and organize the project. The unit will have a capacity of 1000-1600MWe and be located at either the Olkiluoto or Loviisa site.

Depending on the size of the reactor, TVO expects it to cost around E1.7-2.5 billion. Several options are under consideration: General Electric’s 1400MWe ABWR, BNFL/Westinghouse’s BWR90+ and AP1000/EP1000, Framatome ANP’s SWR1000 and EPR, and the most recent version of the Russian VVER-1000.

Strong opposition to the new unit was led by environment minister Satu Hassi of the Green Party, who has indicated she might leave the government as a result. The government does not need Green Party support to survive.

Finland imports over 70% of its electricity, mostly from Russia.