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Europe’s Largest Nuclear Reactor Comes Online 14 Years Later Than Planned

The biggest nuclear reactor in Europe by capacity, Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, started regular electricity production on Sunday, entering into service 14 years later than initially planned.

Olkiluoto 3, which had completed test production and is now regularly producing electricity, is expected to account for 30% of Finland’s power generation, the operator of the plant, TVO, said in a statement.

The reactor with around 1,600 megawatts (MW) of capacity has been plagued by operational issues for years and is the first one to start production in more than four decades. It is expected to produce electricity for the next 60 years and is a significant addition to clean domestic production, TVO said.   

“When the project was launched, nuclear power was supported by about 60 percent of Finns. At present, the popularity of nuclear power is on record level with 83 percent in favour,” the operator of Europe’s largest nuclear reactor noted.

Many countries have moved to support nuclear power generation and construction since the Russian invasion of Ukraine after the war sparked concerns about energy security, with one notable exception—Germany.

The start of commercial operations at Olkiluoto 3 coincided with the end of the nuclear energy era in Germany. Germany took its last three nuclear power plants offline on Saturday, ending more than six decades of commercial nuclear energy use.

Germany ended the nuclear power era despite continued concerns about energy security and energy supply after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the end of pipeline natural gas deliveries from Russia, which was the largest gas supplier to Europe’s biggest economy before the war.

The end of nuclear energy in Germany wasn’t without controversy. Last year, politicians reopened the debate about the nuclear phase-out – decided after the 2011 Fukushima disaster – while recent polls found that the majority of Germans opposed the imminent closure of all remaining nuclear power plants amid concerns about rising energy bills.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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