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Finland : Small modular reactors could be built in Finland immediately, but the nuclear energy law and practices need to be updated

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    A study prepared by LUT University for the Government on the possibilities of small modular nuclear reactors (SMR technology) in Finland shows that it would already be possible to implement these reactors in Finland for the production of electricity, heat or both within the framework of current nuclear energy legislation.

    However, according to the study, the development of nuclear energy law and licensing and control practices in the nuclear sector would fully exploit the benefits of SMR technology for construction, operational safety and the economy.

    The ownership structure, location, implementation, safety characteristics and manufacturing of small modular nuclear power plants differ in many respects from existing nuclear power plants. A study commissioned from Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) assesses the development needs of the Finnish nuclear licensing system and control procedures in the light of these criteria.

    The development of law, licensing and control could promote the use of SMR technologies in energy production. this development should take into account both the construction phase and the safety of use throughout the life cycle.

    The study estimates that the approval of a small reactor plant may be more relevant to society than the launch of a separate decision-in-principle for each individual reactor. Of course, this will also challenge future business models for overall thinking.

    In that case, the energy policy content of the Government's decision-in-principle on nuclear energy projects would be separated from the detailed decision-making on individual reactors. This would be the case in particular when the project is based on simultaneous small-scale power plants, possibly at several sites or as a series of several reactors.

    In the draft National Climate and Energy Strategy, SMR reactors are presented as a potential option for developing energy production. Nuclear power plays an important role in ensuring the security of supply of Finland's energy supply and achieving national climate targets, says Liisa Heikinheimo , Industry Adviser at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy .

    The study report and its follow-up work will be utilized in the ongoing reform work on the Nuclear Energy Act. The aim is for the bill being prepared by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy to be submitted to Parliament, and the revised law to enter into force in the next term, approximately in 2027.

    Electricity production in Finland is already low-emission. Last year, 87 percent of Finnish electricity was emission-free. The share will increase further this year as the OL3 nuclear power plant unit is put into commercial use and much more wind power is built.

    The next emission reduction target to be solved in the energy system is the most common form of heating in Finland, ie district heating, about half of which is still produced with fossil fuels.

    The publication has been implemented as part of the implementation of the Government's 2021 study and research plan.


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