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Finnish nuclear reactor going offline in March may spell higher electricity prices

Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Finland.
Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Finland. Source: Hannu Huovila/TVO

The current high electricity prices in Estonia may rise further later on in winter and into early spring, as in March a reactor at a Finnish power station is due to go offline for several weeks, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reports.

Reactor three at the Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Western Finland (Olkiluoto-3) only started work last May, having been subject to delays which pushed its opening date many years beyond the originally planned 2010.

Finland's electricity rose to the ceiling over the past week, with the country's transmissions systems operator, Fingrid, urging the public in the sauna-loving nation (sauna being one of the few Finnish words to have made it into the English language and international lexicon more broadly – ed.) to limit their consumption at peak hours.

The first weekend of the year saw record prices in both Estonia (€850 per Megawatt-hour for Friday, January 5 as an average) and Finland, which in part was put down to the cold snap.

Since then, the average daily price on the NordPool exchange for both countries has scarcely dropped below the €100 per Mwh-mark (see table below), while had Olkiluoto-3 not been online during that time, electricity would have cost even more, Helsingin Sanomat stated.

In any case the third will be offline from the start of March through to April 8 in any case, a period totaling 37 days with the reason being annual routine maintenance, the daily said.

Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), which operates the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, says the third reactor covers about 14 percent of Finland's electricity needs with its capacity of 1,600 Megawatts.

The output equates to 5.2 million apartments being heated, or 3.6 million electric vehicles being charged, through the year (Finland's population is around 5.6 million – ed.).

The Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant (pictured) is one of Finland's two nuclear power plants, the other being the two-unit Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant. A planned third power station near Oulu (at Hanhikivi) was shelved in May 2022 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine – the project was being constructed by Russian state agency Rosatom.

Daily average electricity prices for Estonia and Finland on the NordPool exchange, January 5-January 15 inclusive. Source: NordPool

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karl Kivil

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