Nothing good comes out if you hurry. This is something that Erkki Uusitalo, head of the Fennovoima nuclear power plant project electrical engineering unit, knows well. Careful planning and accurate reporting will make the construction phase of the nuclear power plant more clear-cut.

Fennovoima’s head office in the Salmisaari district of Helsinki is very busy: people are working on the licensing phase of the nuclear power plant project in Pyhäjoki. The unit that Erkki Uusitalo manages focuses on the electricity systems of the new nuclear power plant from internal data communications to high-voltage connections outside the plant site. Only instrumentation and automation are not part of the unit’s sphere of responsibility.

The electrical engineering unit is currently reviewing and commenting on electricity system design documentation submitted by the plant supplier. The unit reviews the documents to ensure that they are correct and can be used in the licensing process.

Fennovoima submits reviewed material to the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), which finally gives its statement of plant’s safety. STUK's positive safety assessment is required for the construction license granted by the Finnish Government, which Fennovoima expects to receive in 2019. After that, the construction of Hanhikivi 1 power plant may begin.

Well-planned is half done

Uusitalo says that when handled properly, the planning and licensing phase of a nuclear power plant is arduous, but he is of the opinion that being thorough is a good thing. An investment in thinking through the basic solutions with care at this point will pay itself back during the nuclear power plant construction phase.

- We proceed from plant-level documents to concept-level, system-level, and finally component-level documents. After revisions and corrections by the plant supplier, we will submit the documents to STUK as reasonably-sized entities. There is no sense in submitting such a huge volume of material one document at a time, Uusitalo points out.

The most important thing is that all the solutions described in the documents comply with the nuclear safety legislation and nuclear safety requirements, Finnish and European standards, and the contract between Fennovoima and Rosatom. The contract is based on the turnkey principle, where the plant supplier is in charge of not only the design, but also the procurement of all components for the agreed entity.

- Rosatom has plenty of technical experience and evidence of the application of nuclear technology. At this point, our duty is to ensure that the documents that Rosatom provides comply with the Finnish requirements, after which we must submit them to the authorities, Uusitalo explains.

Infrastructural construction proceeding

The licensing phase of the nuclear power plant does not mean that the Hanhikivi 1 project only exists on paper at this point. Preparations for the construction phase have been going on at the construction site since 2015. The construction license is needed to start the construction of structures important for nuclear safety, but regular construction activities can be carried out on the basis of construction permits from the municipality, for example.

So far, roads, lighting systems, electricity distribution systems, and fences have been built at the power plant site. The training building and main gate building are also complete. Plenty of excavation and dredging has been carried out as well. The plan is to start the construction of the power plant site administrative building in the near future.

- Our unit was among the first to enter Pyhäjoki, because electricity is something that is always needed at the construction site, Uusitalo says.