ForTheDoers Blog

Nuclear power offers decarbonised stability for our daily lives

Matti Kattainen 22 May 2023, 13:00

Nuclear power plays a central role in the Nordic energy mix. It provides stable and reliable electricity for society's needs and supports industrial decarbonisation. At the same time, it contributes to increasing renewable energy production. At Fortum, we are currently looking into the conditions under which nuclear power could be increased.

Loviisa nuclear power plant

As the energy crisis hits Europe, it has become even clearer that if we really want to move away from coal-based production – and this is what we are committed to across the EU – we need to exploit all low-carbon energy sources. This also means nuclear power. And why not use it. Together with variable renewables and hydroelectricity for balancing power, stable nuclear power makes a viable combination.

Recently, we in Europe have learned to consume more electricity when it is most available. Despite this, the need to increase electricity generation will be strong in the future. The electrification of transport and industry alone will ensure this. Increasing renewable energy production is definitely worthwhile, but weather conditions can be fickle for production. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is available in all weathers, day and night.

Stable and clean electricity production attracts investment

Industry decarbonisation is at the heart of Fortum's recent strategy. Together with a number of partners, we are exploring different solutions to replace fossil fuel-based energy. However, sufficient clean electricity production is a prerequisite not only for decarbonisation, but also for industrial investment in general. The energy transition is an excellent opportunity for the Nordic countries to attract investment, and reliable access to carbon-free electricity is a major asset.

Support for nuclear power is currently very high in Finland and Sweden: 68% of the Finnish public are in favour of nuclear power, while in Sweden over 70% say they are in favour of using existing power plants or building new nuclear power. The increase in support seems to be largely driven by climate change mitigation and stability of production. People have realised that without nuclear power we will not get rid of fossil fuels in the planned timeframe. And climate change will not wait.

With enough domestic nuclear power, we are not only closer to decarbonising our society, but also less dependent on imported energy. Our existing nuclear power plants in Finland will produce electricity for decades, which means that our energy security is much better than in countries that rely on natural gas, for example.

We are also exploring the possibility of building new nuclear power in Finland and Sweden - either large power plants like the current ones or small reactors (SMRs), which in the future will be cost-effectively mass-produced in factories, subject to regulatory approval.
Nuclear power is also important to me on a personal level - after all, I have worked on it all my professional life. More on that in the next part of this blog series, where I will also talk about the phases of the Loviisa nuclear power plant.

Matti Kattainen

matti [dot] kattainen [at] fortum [dot] com

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