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Fennovoima nuclear power plant in Finland – what's it all about?

Nuclear, no thanks!
Nuclear, no thanks!

The Finnish nuclear power company Fennovoima's plans to build a nuclear power plant at Hankikivi has caused extensive debate in Finland. The reason is not only that nuclear energy is not a solution for the future. There are other reasons to oppose the project, too. 

One of the main reasons for criticism is that Fennovoima is building the plant together with the Russian energy company Rosatom, which is directly in guidance of the Russian state. Rosatom is not only supposed to deliver the reactor, but is also the biggest owner of Fennovoima. Rosatom has never before conducted a project that passes Western security standards, nor has any of its projects been finished within time or budget since the fall of Soviet Union. Moreover, the need for a new power plant has been legitimised by arguing that it reduces Finland's energy dependence – now it does the opposite, by making the whole project dependent on Rosatom.

To get around the dependency issue, the Finnish government decided that the project would not receive a building permission unless 60 % of the ownership belongs to companies within EU and ETA countries. This remained a problem, untill a Croatian company, Migrit Solarna Energija, emerged as an investor. Technically, the condition was fulfilled, but when you scratched the surface a bit it was evident that the company was actually funded by Russian actors. In the end, the Finnish government owned energy company Fortum was forced to become an investor, even though earlier it had announced it would not do this.

As the project became more and more precarious, many Finnish investors, including private companies and municipalities, have since wanted to withdraw from the project. This, however, is impossible unless they manage to sell their share of Fennovoima to someone else. The only problem: nobody wants to buy. No wonder that only less than a third of Finns supported the project in July 2015.

The Finnish Greens have of course opposed the project from the start. The party has also published its alternative for nuclear energy. It relies on domestic, clean and renewable energy production. The Greens argue that the whole amount of energy produced by the Fennovoima nuclear plant could be replaced by their alternative energy plan. They point out that in only five years, Sweden and Denmark have built wind power that amounts to the planned yearly energy production of Fennovoima. Since it would take years before the Fennovoima plant is in action (indeed, it has been 10 years since the building of Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant started and it's still not finished), it would be much faster to invest in renewables. Indeed, that would be the solution for the future.

 The Fennovoima plant is currently waiting for a permission to start building. It will take the state two years, till 2017, to process the application. The Greens in Finland continue to oppose the project.

By Merja Kähkönen, Global Greens Coordination Member - Finland

Nuclear, no thanks!
Hanna Halmeenpää, Finnish Green parliamentarian, who opposes actively to nuclear energy

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