The business area of EPV Power includes the generation of hydropower and nuclear power by the companies Pohjolan Voima, Teollisuuden Voima, Voimapiha and Rapid Power.
In 2020, the EPV Power business area focused intently on emission-free energy generation. The construction of the final disposal facility for nuclear waste proceeded well, and EPV started working with its partners on an advanced hydrogen project to store renewable electricity. The rainy year increased the production volume of climate-friendly hydroelectric power.
The nuclear power sector kept the EPV Power business area busy in many ways in 2020. EPV’s associated company Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) managed the Olkiluoto nuclear power plants. During the year, the construction of the plants’ final disposal facility for nuclear waste progressed in leaps and bounds.
Posiva is an expert organisation in nuclear waste management and responsible for the final disposal of the spent nuclear fuel of its owners, Teollisuuden Voima and Fortum, as well as the final disposal studies concerning their spent nuclear fuel, the construction and operation of their final disposal facility and the closure of the facility after use. In the spring of 2020, Posiva began the excavation of final disposal tunnels in the bedrock under Olkiluoto. Over the next two years, the excavation of the central tunnels will be continued, and the first five final disposal tunnels will be completed. The second project to make final disposal possible is the construction of an encapsulation plant. The autumn saw the structures of the encapsulation plant rise at ground level. At the encapsulation plant, the spent nuclear fuel bundles are dried and enclosed in hermetically sealed canisters designed for final disposal.
The preparations for the final disposal of nuclear fuel have been carried out methodically for almost 40 years. Posiva has been internationally recognised as the first final disposal operator in the world dealing with spent nuclear waste.
“The nuclear fuel bundles are dried and enclosed in hermetically sealed canisters designed for final disposal, which are then stored in the deposition holes excavated in Olkiluoto. The placement of the canisters will begin during the 2020s,” explains Vice President Niko Paaso, EPV Power.
Olkiluoto nuclear power plant made successful special COVID-19 arrangements
The annual maintenance of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plants went well despite the special COVID-19 arrangements. A refuelling outage was organised for Olkiluoto 2 and the extent of the Olkiluoto 1 maintenance shutdown was changed due to the exceptional circumstances. The largest alteration work was postponed to a later date.
In August, TVO received an updated schedule for the commissioning of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant. The completion of the plant will be further delayed. According to the new schedule, the fuel will be loaded in March 2021 and the plant unit will be connected to the national electricity grid in October 2021. Regular electricity generation will begin in February 2022.
As a whole, the Olkiluoto 1 and 2 plant units had a good year of nuclear power production. The only longer disturbance occurred in December.
A joint hydrogen project and battery investment is being developed for the storage of wind electricity
The storage of renewable electricity plays a significant role in the achievement of global climate objectives. In 2020, EPV engaged in researching and developing alternatives for storing wind electricity. According to Paaso, the project preparations focused particularly on electric battery and hydrogen technology.
In the future, electric batteries will play a significant role in supporting the operation of an electricity grid. Because batteries have a very quick reaction speed, they are suitable for use during an unexpected need for electrical power.
At the end of the year, operators in Vaasa began discussing a joint project where the objective would be to produce hydrogen with renewable electricity in order to store the hydrogen and use it at a later date for generating electricity. The system would produce hydrogen during windy periods, and electricity in situations when there is less wind electricity available. Preparations for the project are under way collaboratively between EPV, Wärtsilä, Vaasan Sähkö and the City of Vaasa.
The future hydrogen plant is considered an important part of EPV’s zero-emission solutions for thermal energy and electricity production. The idea is to store the heat resulting from hydrogen and energy generation in the existing thermal energy storage facility built into rock caverns in the area, while maximising the total efficiency of the system. The parties involved aim to investigate the possibilities for getting financial aid for the project and to launch it in 2021.
A good year for hydroelectric power
EPV Energy holds hydropower shares in Finland through PVO-Vesivoima and in Sweden through Voimapiha. 2020 was a rainy year, which means that the production volume for hydroelectric power was greater than usual in Finland and Sweden. The usability of the hydraulic turbines was also at a satisfactory level.
PVO-Vesivoima launched a new project for the River Iijoki in order to boost the migratory fish population. The project involves building migratory passage structures beside the Haapakoski power plant for smolts, i.e. young salmon or trout, to swim to the sea and equipment for capturing them.