"Tested and proven technology with decades of operating experience,” Grigory Gromov says when asked to describe VVER plants. Gromov has spent his whole working career with VVER technology. Next, he will build a VVER plant in Finland.
The Hanhikivi 1 -project is generating new business operations around it. The most important role in the project is occupied by a company called RAOS Project Oy. A subsidiary of the Rosatom Group, RAOS Project Oy is the company that will supply a nuclear power plant to Fennovoima as a fixed-price turnkey delivery.
The company’s operations are defined by the plant supply contract signed with Fennovoima, which specifies each party’s areas of responsibility. Fennovoima will manage license and permit applications and the construction of auxiliary buildings at the plant site, while RAOS Project is building the actual power plant, including planning and design, preparation of the plant site, construction work, and installation and commissioning of the power plant.
From regulating authority to a construction project
RAOS Project’s CEO Grigory Gromov has a long career in the nuclear industry.
“I was born in Soviet Russia, but my family moved to Kiev, Ukraine. I have worked in the nuclear industry in Ukraine since 1988: at power utilities, at a research institute, and for a public authority,” Gromov says.
During his time in Ukraine, Gromov gained experience of nearly all the stages of the life cycle of a nuclear power plant. He knows the VVER plant type inside and out, and he didn’t hesitate when he was offered the opportunity to join the Hanhikivi 1 project. Working at the Ukrainian nuclear safety authority (Institute of Safety) has given Gromov a solid understanding of safety culture.
According to Gromov, the VVER reactor type to be built in Pyhäjoki is well-known and proven technology.
Moving to Russia – and then to Finland
In 2016, Gromov was contacted by Rosatom when it needed an experienced head for a nuclear power plant project in Finland. Joining the project meant that Gromov would need to move first to Russia, and then to Finland. “I must admit that I really like life here in Finland," he says.
“The industry in Europe continues to need a secure and reliable energy supply. Hanhikivi 1 will be built to meet this need. The project will transform Pyhäjoki from a small village to a town of importance. It will become a grand city,” Gromov says, smiling.
Rosatom exports nuclear technology all around the world. It has projects in progress in Hungary, Egypt, India, Vietnam and China. However, Gromov emphasizes that Hanhikivi 1 is the top priority for the company.
“Hanhikivi is a Western project, subject to Western safety regulations. We are very strongly motivated to succeed in Finland.”
Gromov was already familiar with the Finnish nuclear industry before the current project.
“International cooperation had introduced me to the Finnish nuclear industry and its regulations long before I started work in Finland.”
The Leningrad II nuclear plant units currently under construction in Sosnovy Bor, near Saint Petersburg in Russia, are used as reference for Hanhikivi 1. The nature of the design of the plants is very similar, although there are some differences.
“It’s good that the construction of a cooling tower is not necessary in Finland. The landscape will remain nicer without it,” Gromov says.
Energy for the future
Grigory Gromov believes that nuclear power has a strong future.
“The industry must find a balance between innovation and proven technology. VVER plants use solid, thoroughly tested technology. Decades of successful operating experience will ensure their demand also in the future.”
The RAOS Project is growing at a steady rate. The Finnish company employs hundreds of experts in Helsinki, Pyhäjoki, Saint Petersburg and Moscow. In addition to Russian and Finnish employees, the Finnish company has also hired nuclear power professionals from countries all over the world. As the project proceeds, the majority of operations will relocate to Pyhäjoki.
“We are also hiring lots of Finnish experts and employees and we see this project as a good opportunity for them to expand their professional skills at international level.
"Our people come to Finland as project employees, but the timeframe is very long: the project is expected to be completed in 2024. For some, a period this long may mean the rest of their working career. But Finland is a clean and safe country, and many will bring their families with them as they move here. I’m glad to be here and to be a part of this important project,” Gromov says.