10 things to know about nuclear power in the 2020s

Nuclear power is a future energy form that is continuously developing. At the same time, it sparks a lot of questions and lively discussions. We at Fortum have more than 40 years of experience in planning and operating nuclear power plants. We have compiled 10 relevant questions and answers – read how nuclear power supports our journey towards a carbon-neutral society.

Loviisa-fortum-nuclear-sea-view

1. Why is nuclear power used?

To mitigate climate change, more electricity is needed – and it must be carbon-free electricity. For this purpose, nuclear power offers the best combination of reliability, safety and profitability. In fact, nuclear power’s most important task is to ensure year-round base-load production. Nuclear power is used to produce electricity reliably, 24/7, regardless of the time of the day or the weather conditions. For example, our Loviisa nuclear power plant alone produces more than 10% of Finland’s electricity.

2. What is nuclear power’s climate impact?

Nuclear power production is carbon dioxide-free. The lifecycle climate impact of electricity produced with nuclear power is comparable to wind, solar or hydropower.

3. Should energy use be decreased for climate reasons?

Electricity is the foundation of our wellbeing, and society is electrifying at a rapid pace. More and more electricity is needed because electricity is the power behind many of the actions to reduce climate emissions in industry, households and transportation. Growing electricity consumption doesn’t mean growing emissions; what matters is how the electricity is produced. Nuclear power production is a carbon dioxide-free and reliable energy source.

4. Won’t wind power soon be able to provide most of the base-load supply?

Nuclear power is reliable and stable base-load power that produces electricity 24/7, regardless of the weather. Wind is one of the most important renewable energy sources in electricity production in the future, and the wind conditions in our home markets are excellent.

5. How profitable is nuclear power from society’s perspective?

Nuclear power is profitable in Finland without public subsidies. As a domestic energy form, nuclear power increases self-sufficiency, which in turn creates jobs and bolsters the Finnish economy. The nuclear power sector is a significant employer in Finland: for example, the Loviisa power plant continuously employs about 530 Fortum employees and 100 external employees.

SMR small nuclear reactor energy Fortum

6. How is the safety of nuclear power ensured?

Fortum’s nuclear power plants have operated safely throughout their history, which spans more than 40 years. Nuclear power safety is ensured with multiple isolation layers, back-up systems and comprehensive training.

7. How is it ensured that the nuclear waste generated by the use of nuclear power doesn’t pose a threat to nature or people?

Radioactive waste accounts for a small share of all waste at Fortum’s Loviisa nuclear power plant, just 5%. We are committed to processing this waste very carefully and responsibly. Finland is a globally leading expert in nuclear waste management and in the final disposal of nuclear waste. Before final disposal, nuclear waste is placed in interim storage under controlled conditions in the power plant area. Spent fuel from the Loviisa power plant will eventually be disposed of in Posiva’s final repository under construction at Olkiluoto.

8. How has the nuclear sector developed in recent years?

Over the decades, we at Fortum have implemented a number of innovations that have advanced nuclear power technology. Examples include various computational software to more accurately model plant operations. These models are used to achieve the best possible efficiency when renewing components, for example.

9. How will the nuclear power sector develop in the future?

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and their role in the energy markets have been an active topic of discussion in recent times because they are a versatile tool in mitigating climate change. SMRs are nuclear reactors with a power output of less than 300 MW. In addition to the lower power output, they also differ from big plants because they can be serially produced. SMRs could be used to produce carbon dioxide-free energy in the form of, e.g. electricity, heat or hydrogen, more efficiently, more flexibly and at a lower cost.

We at Fortum are constantly developing our own expertise and tools for simulating SMR plants, for example, and we are exploring and advancing business opportunities in the sector.

10. What are Fortum’s future plans for nuclear power?

Nuclear power has an important role also in the clean energy focus of our future strategy. Nuclear power plays a significant role as we pursue growth in carbon-free electricity production, and we are continuously developing our nuclear power solutions. We see Small Modular Reactors, for example, as part of nuclear power’s future, and we are actively engaged in the research and development of them. We are also interested in the possibilities of nuclear in heat and hydrogen production.

Fortum Loviisa power plant’s existing operating licenses are valid until the end of 2027 and 2030. Fortum has initiated the nuclear power plant Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure to assess the environmental impacts of the potential lifetime extension of the power plant or, alternatively, the decommissioning of the power plant, as well as the environmental impacts of the final disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level waste. Additional information about the EIA is available at: https://www.fortum.com/loviisaeia.