The commencement of regular output from a much-delayed Finnish nuclear reactor in April saw electricity prices in the country decrease by more than 75 percent.
The Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) nuclear plant completed the transition from testing to regular output last month to become Finland’s first new nuclear plant in more than four decades. It is expected to produce up to 15 percent of the country’s power demand.
And while the plant’s production is still in its early days, its launch has had a considerable effect on Finland’s energy prices, lowering the electricity spot price in the country from €245.98 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in December to €60.55 per MWh in April, a reduction of more than 75 percent, according to physical electricity exchange, Nord Pool.
Energy prices had risen sharply in the Scandinavian country after the Finnish government banned electricity imports from neighboring Russia last year due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The utilization of nuclear power will be welcomed by Finnish consumers, particularly given the fact that Finland has the highest per-capita electricity consumption in the European Union.
“We have had more stability in the system because of OL3. It’s a huge nuclear plant, one of the biggest in the world, connected to a small system,” said Jukka Ruusunen, chief executive of Finland’s national grid operator Fingrid. “It has its own risks, which we are happy to follow up on,” he added.
Speaking to The National, Ruusunen explained that wind power is expected to be the largest source of energy production in Finland by 2027, with nuclear currently being a useful and reliable substitute.
He said that wind power is capable of attracting greater investment, with nuclear energy seemingly being blacklisted by a number of environmental investors.
“Nuclear, it seems, is not very attractive for the investors. This is what they say. But, it’s an option and I’m sure that our politicians would be in favor of these decisions,” he told the news site.
There are also business concerns:
“Who dares to put billions of euros into nuclear?” he asked.
Nuclear, however, continues to be an increasingly popular source of energy production in many EU nations with France, Sweden, Poland and Hungary all seeking to expand their nuclear energy output.
Last month, Poland secured $4 billion in U.S. funding to help build 20 small modular reactors across the country by 2029, while Hungary is focused on expanding its Paks nuclear power plant.
The Finnish example is a testament to how nuclear can play a part in solving the current energy crisis, with consumers still paying sky-high fees for energy in many European countries.
Germany, however, went the opposite way and controversially closed down its three remaining nuclear power plants last month. High inflation, high energy costs, and a sharp decline in industrial output have led to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting a recession is in the cards for Europe’s powerhouse.
While German government officials say that energy prices are stabilizing, many will argue this is primarily because the federal government has spent around €26 billion in taxpayers’ cash on bailing out energy firms Sefe and Uniper, both of which incurred record losses by purchasing natural gas at hugely inflated prices to replace the banned supply from Russia.
As other European countries turn to alternative sources of energy production such as nuclear, some have ignored the benefits and chosen to plunge themselves into debt because of a notion that nuclear isn’t an acceptable energy source in the modern day.