Saturday, October 14, 2017

Finland Nuclear Plant Fiasco

Subtitle:  Huge Delays and Cost Overrun are Nuclear's New Normal

The new nuclear plant in Finland at Olkiluoto, known as Olkiluoto 3, is finally nearing completion and perhaps a startup.   This is a 1600 MWe single-reactor, pressurized water design using the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) by Areva, the French company.   If completed as now contemplated, the construction will have taken 14 years start to finish.  That's a big IF.   The cost has soared to almost triple the original amount, from €3.2 billion to  €8.5 billion.  In US terms, that is $10 billion for a cost/kW of $6,300.    One can be confident that the stated costs do not include interest on construction funds. 

UPDATE: 3-19-19, Finland issues operating license for the Olkiluoto plant, for anticipated startup in 2020.  That's 11 years later than the initial plan, and fifteen years start-to-finish, and cost is almost 3 times the original cost.   - - end update

The Financial Times article, "Nuclear plant nears completion after huge delays," has this to say:  see link

"Areva, the French reactor manufacturer, began building Olkiluoto in 2005 with a target for completion by 2009 at a cost of €3.2bn. The latest timetable would see it open almost a decade late at the end of 2018 and nearly three times over budget at €8.5bn.

The project is the most extreme example of the delays and cost overruns which have become commonplace in the nuclear industry, plunging reactor companies such as Areva and Toshiba’s Westinghouse subsidiary into financial crisis.

Areva’s ability to complete Olkiluoto over the next year and learn lessons from the fiasco as it presses ahead with similar projects in France and the UK will go a long way to determining the industry’s chances of recovery."

The financial impact of the long delays and huge costs is that power price that must be obtained is in the $120 per MWh range.  Of that, $80 is for capital recovery and $40 is for operating costs.   That presumes, of course, that the plant actually runs every year at an average of 90 percent of nameplate capacity.   If the output slips to just 85 percent, the power sales price must increase to $127-130 per MWh.  

Nuclear power via these new, supposedly safe and efficient plants is some of the most expensive power on the planet.   This EPR design is also under construction in France, and was selected in a twin-reactor design for the UK at Hinkley Point C.   

Meanwhile, electricity via offshore wind power, supplemented by onshore natural gas load-following plants, is far more cost-effective, much safer, and has zero chance of a reactor meltdown. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2017 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved

Topics and general links:

Nuclear Power
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Fresh  and here
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