Looking ahead to the future

The climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published last fall, was for many a wake-up call about the serious consequences of climate change. Rapid action on a global scale and above all, large-scale electrification of the society is required to stop emissions that are having an adverse effect on the climate.

After nearly ten years of silence, nuclear energy has returned to the climate and energy policy discourse also in the European Union. The net-zero target for 2050 proposed by the European Commission at the end of the year will require, according to the Commission’s estimate, doubling the European electricity production capacity. This objective cannot be reached by increased use of renewable energy alone. Instead, a considerable amount of new nuclear power capacity must be built to replace the plants that are to be decommissioned. The need for additional construction is equivalent to the investment value of 66 Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plants, totaling some EUR 400 billion by 2050. Even if all the investments were fully realized, the share of nuclear power in European electricity production would fall from 25% to 15%.

In Finland, attitudes towards nuclear energy are more positive than ever. According to a survey ordered by Finnish Energy, 41% of Finns support the construction of nuclear power. To my mind the debate on nuclear energy has become more rational and solution-oriented than before. It seems that nuclear base load energy is recognized as an important part of the emission-free energy solution also in the future, together with renewable energy.

Clear vision for the future

For me personally, and surely for all who are working on the Hanhikivi 1 project, the progress of the project in 2018 was a disappointment. The new estimated schedule received from the plant supplier at the end of the year postpones the launch of CO2-free power production in Pyhäjoki by several years.

However, the new schedule also gives us clarity: it makes it easier to plan and manage the work, and prepare for the next project phases. We have also begun revamping our organization to smooth the way for swifter progress of the project.

We ensure the safety of the plant design

Safe nuclear energy is the foundation of all our operations. When considered in proportion to the production volume, nuclear energy is the safest form of energy production. However, safety is not something that appears spontaneously; it takes meticulous work over the long term. 

At the moment, we are making sure that the plant can be built to meet all the strict statutory safety requirements. During the spring, our goal is to address the final technical design issues that are central for plant safety and the design documentation required for the safety assessment will be completed by the end of 2019.

We lead the supply chain closely

The scale of the Finnish constantly updated nuclear safety requirements and their detailed nature become concrete to the parties involved in the project as the work proceeds. Challenges have been faced when interpreting the requirements and when assigning them at the appropriate supply chain parties. We have found that we need to engage in closer cooperation with RAOS Project in the area of supply chain management, and together lead the supply chain closer.

We promote employee commitment

A total of 52 new experts joined us during the year, but many left us as well. In addition to natural turnover, the upcoming move to Pyhäjoki had an effect on the employee turnover rate. The slow progress of the project and the differences between the operating cultures of Fennovoima and the plant supplier have undoubtedly caused frustration in our personnel. 

I believe that with the right measures, we influence the work satisfaction of our most valuable asset, our personnel – and thus strengthen the commitment to the Fennoway spirit of Fennovoima. The key factors to ensure commitment are harmonization of the practices, high quality management, and continuous investment in occupational well-being.

We create prosperity for Pyhäjoki and the whole of Finland

We are happy to know that the people of Pyhäjoki trust the Hanhikivi 1 project and believe in it; the fact that 70% of people support it provides ample proof of this.

The municipalities in the region are looking forward to welcoming us when we move our operations there. Last fall, we held an event in Salmisaari where 15 municipalities of the region introduced themselves and told our personnel about life in Northern Ostrobothnia. 

The locals know that the Hanhikivi 1 project improves the predictability of the municipal economies in the region for decades to come, and allows long-term investment in social and health services and infrastructure that benefit the local residents. When the cascade effect on the local economy is taken into account, the project will provide approximately 1,300 person-years of work in Northern Ostrobothnia in the preparatory construction work phase alone, as well as increasing the public tax income for the region by EUR 30 million. The scale of benefits will increase considerably when the actual plant construction begins.

The indirect employment and economic effect is not limited to Pyhäjoki, but will be substantial throughout Finland. Approximately 20,000 person-years of employment, including cascade effects, will be provided during the entire construction project, as well as notable additional investments. These will benefit households throughout Finland.

Toni Hemminki
President and CEO, Fennovoima