Finland Set to Expand Nuclear Energy Program

The recent natural disaster in Japan — and the subsequent focus on Fukushima Daiichi — isn’t stopping at least one European nation from looking to nuclear power to fulfill its energy needs.

Map of Finland

Pyhajoki, Finland, will become home to the first planned new reactor since the Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami brought Fukushima to international attention.

Construction on the Pyhajoki reactor, to be built by Finnish nuclear power consortium Fennovoima, is scheduled to start in 2015. It will cost approximately $5-8 billion (4-6 billion euros) and be the country’s sixth nuclear power plant.

Nuclear energy is an especially important resource for Finland, as its cold winter months and diverse industries demand the massive amounts of energy that nuclear reactors can generate. Expansion of its nuclear energy infrastructure means the country won’t be as forced to look to Russia to meet its energy needs.

Finland plans to add two nuclear reactors, bringing its total to seven. The country did take a closer look at nuclear safety issues as a response to Fukushima. There was much debate — its supreme administrative court even stepped in near the end — but now they’re moving forward. Areva and Toshiba were invited to bid on the planned reactor and a decision on which company will be awarded the contract is expected in 2012 or 2013.