Does Finland and Europe need more nuke capacity?

by , under All categories, Enrique

The creation of Fennovoima, a new consortium comprising of Boliden , E.ON, Katternö, Outokumpu, and Rauma Energia, aims to build within ten years a 1-1.8GW nuclear plant that would produce cheap power mainly for industry. Being a hydrocarbons poor country, it’s understandable that Finland wants to lessen as much dependence as possible on foreign energy imports from countries like Russia.

Finland is presently building a sixth nuclear plant at Olkiluoto, where there are already two nuclear plants in operation. The country’s two other nuke plants are at Loviisa.

While industry lobbies for more nuclear capacity, Finland’s power markets are mainly operated by two giants: Fortum and Vattenfall of Sweden. The creation of Fennovoima is a healthy sign since it’ll bring a new player to the market.

It’s a lamentable trend in the European Union that the number of power companies is shrinking, not growing. A while back there were nine large power companies in Germany and today there are only four. The same trend is happening in Spain, where three energy companies – Gas Natural, E.ON and Enel – courted Endesa, the country’s largest power utility. After having five power companies — Endesa, Iberdrola, Union Fenosa, Hidrocantábrico and Viesgo — it may end up with two.

While some may argue for more nuclear power, I believe the one important issue to be greater competition in the European power sector. It’s the only assurance that power prices will remain at acceptable levels and that the European Union doesn’t turn into an overgrown and predatory Electricite de France. Competition will guarantee that there’s enough generating capacity for everyone as well.

Finland and Europe doesn’t necessarily need more nuclear capacity — it needs more competition.