Atomic Policy in Finland

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Overall picture in Finland

Source: lecture of Tapio Litmanen, University of Jyväskylä [1]

  • Finland has four nuclear reactors providing nearly 30% of its electricity
  • A fifth reactor is now under construction
  • Two more are planned
  • Provisions for radioactive waste disposal are advanced

Nuclear Renaissance? - Anti-nuclear Protests in Finland

For many years Finland was internationally regarded as the country of the so-called "nuclear renaissance" (a worldwide increasing number of new reactor projects was utilized by the atomic lobby to pretend this industry to have a prospering future). The very first EU reactor design after the Chernobyl catastrophe, the European Pressurized Water Reactor EPR, developed by the French Framatome (these days Areva) and the German Siemens company, was to be constructed as a prototype in Olkiluoto in Finland. At the same time a site for final disposal of high level radioactive waste was started (not in operation yet) there, called Onkalo. Pro-nuclear media and lobby claimed Finnish people to be supporting the atomic plans, and for a long time it was impossible to correct this media image.

Decades ago, when the first atomic sites for NPPs were established in Lovisa and Olkiluoto, a strong anti-nuclear movement was protesting this policy. However, most active people gave up when the reactors were built and only a small number of activists continued campaigning and advocating against atomic power afterwards. In 2008 with an “International Anti Nuclear Festival” for the first time since years interested people, activists and organizers gathered nearby Olkiluoto starting something that developed to a new, young anti-nuclear movement. Since that time several international campaigns, projects and events were started. Focus was on Olkiluoto III, uranium mining in Tervola and Ranua as well as on the proposed EON NPP in northern Finland. In the beginning of November 2012 a major environmental catastrophe took place at the Talvivaara nickel and uranium mine. Thousands of cubic meters of toxic and radioactive waste waters were released in a spill event. Immediately thousands of people stood up protesting the uranium mining in Talvivaara and demanding the site to be closed. A number of new people have joined the anti-nuclear movement in Finland due to the Talvivaara spill. Many new initiatives were started and we have an enthusiastic atmosphere within the anti-nuclear struggle here now.

The movement is formed by many small groups of activists, partly connected to environmental NGOs, but mostly of grassroots type. In 2010 the publicly announced "Olkiluoto Blockade" was the first nation-wide gathering of anti-nuclear activists in Finland with a bigger opportunity to discuss strategies and to meet many activists in person. Stragety discussions take place locally, and especially southern groups are in a deeper exchange with each other. Other connected movements have been established in more northern parts of Finland against uranium and against the EON NPP attempts.

Nuclear power plants in Finland

Source: lecture of Tapio Litmanen, University of Jyväskylä [2]

  • Total electricity supply 84,7 TWh in 2011
  • Fuel: no front-end facilities, potential uranium extracting (Talvivaara Sotkamo Oy) from 2012
  • No reprocessing of spent fuel - ban to import/export nuclear waste (since 1994)
  • Fortum:
    • Loviisa 1 4.0 TWh
    • Loviisa 2 4.0 TWh
  • TVO:
    • Olkiluoto 1 7.4 TWh
    • Olkiluoto 2 6.9 TWh
    • (OL3 - est. 13 TWh)
    • (Olkiluoto 4)
  • Fennovoima: (Hanhikivi 1)

Recent nuclear power policy-making

Source: lecture of Tapio Litmanen, University of Jyväskylä [3] Three different policy arrangement periods have been distinguished:

  1. rejection: 1986–1993
  2. revival: 1994–2002
  3. renewal: 2003–2010

Before recent favourable nuclear decisions in 2002 and 2010, nuclear power was rejected by the Parliament in 1993.

Decades of determined pro nuclear lobbying

  • The rejection period, 1986-1993:
    • characterized by opposition to nuclear power
  • The revival period, 1994-2002:
    • a slight increase in public support for nuclear power
    • presumably because the nuclear industry lobbied for its new NPP application and the anti-nuclear power movement lost strength
  • The renewal period, 2003-2010:
    • the support for the expansionist decision has increased
    • around 40% of Finns agreed with the policy and opposition dropped to under 30% in 2003

Strong pro nuclear coalition

  • Relatively close relationships between the state and the nuclear industry
    • but also between the state, export industry and labour unions
    • the National Coalition Party, the Social Democratic Party, the power companies, labour unions and business organisations (+ ministry of employment and economy)
  • The energy-intensive pulp and paper industry (UPM Kymmene and Stora Enso)

Follow the money!

  • The current owners of TVO
    • EPV Energia (6,5%), Oy, Fortum Oyj (26%), Karhu Voima Oy (0,1%), Kemira Oyj (1%), Oy Mankala Ab (8%), and Pohjolan Voima Oy (58%)
  • Fortum owns nearly 26% of TVO
    • thus, the interests of the state of Finland are also indirectly represented in TVO, as the state owns just over 50% of Fortum Consortium
  • Owners of PVO
    • 21 shareholders, which include paper makers UPM-Kymmene Oyj (42% of shares) and Stora Enso Oyj (15,6%) as well as locally owned energy companies

Effective change of pro-nuclear discourse

The pro-nuclear coalition reconsidered their message after their defeat in 1993

  • Coalition ended up emphasising softer values such as
    • the importance of the defense of the welfare state
    • combating climate change with nuclear power and
    • the safety of nuclear power

Anti-nuclear coalition was powerful in the 1980s

The 'shock event' of Chernobyl mixed up the policy arrangement of the 1980s

  • For example, the supporting coalition was temporarily paralysed,
  • the political effectiveness of discourses changed
  • the anti-nuclear coalition found new resources

Liberalisation of electricity markets

  • From the mid-1990s, liberalisation and deregulation of electricity markets altered the rules of the game
  • The latest period from 2003 onwards
    • political interests aimed at further increasing nuclear power production capacity
    • debate over liberalisation of the licensing process

Rationale for Nuclear Power Expansion in Finland

Arguments stated by the Government for the positive DIPs (July 2010 )

  • Reaching the climate and energy strategy targets
    • including electricity supply and environmental effects
  • Self-sufficiency as a goal
    • electricity import from Russia and other neighbouring countries
  • Reduce green house gas emissions
  • The seven units might cover almost 60 % of Finnish power demand in 2020ies
  • Increase competitiviness of Finnish industry
    • which is very energy intensive
  • Both companies produce electricity at cost to their owners

Political power: geopolitics

  • National security: Fuel for the economic engine!
  • To ensure energy security countries tend to use energy diplomacy
  • Or more rude geopolitical actions, e.g., military presence and/or domination
  • How geopolitics affects in Finnish energy policy?

Additional resources