8 Major European Nuclear Power Projects To Watch In 2019 And Beyond


We’re facing a dilemma. Global demand for electricity continues to grow, whilst the need to ...

NES Fircroft

By NES Fircroft

We’re facing a dilemma. Global demand for electricity continues to grow, whilst the need to reduce carbon emissions becomes a more urgent priority (as evidenced by the latest IPCC report). Renewable energy may be the fastest growing source of energy capacity, yet it remains a relatively small part of the overall energy mix.

If we are to meet the growing demand for energy in the short term whilst reducing carbon emissions, what is the solution? Nuclear power represents one answer, acting as a ‘bridge’ to a renewable powered future.

It’s an answer which is being grasped by nations across the world as they deal with the two-pronged issue of rising demand for electricity and the need to keep carbon emissions as low as possible.

Across Europe a raft of new nuclear projects are springing up to provide reliable, low-carbon sources of energy. From completely new power plants, to expansions and refits, these are the major European nuclear power projects to watch in 2019 and beyond…

1. Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant

Location: Turkey
Value: $22bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2023

Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, the Akkuyu project is currently under development in Mersin Province on the south coast. A subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom is responsible for the construction and development of what will eventually be a 4,800 MW plant with four power units each with a capacity of 1,200MW using VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors. Construction on the plant first began in early 2018 with the first unit expected to become operational in 2023.

The Akkuyu nuclear power plant will play a central role Turkey’s future economic development. At present Turkey imports much of its energy (an estimated 75% in 2015). With Akkuyu well underway, Turkey is making plans for a further two nuclear power plants; a Franco-Japanese consortium is expected to build the country’s second nuclear plant at Sinop, China is in-line to build the third plant using US-derived technology.

2. Flamanville III Nuclear Plant

Location: France
Value: $12.4bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2019

France has traditionally been a strong proponent of nuclear energy within Europe. At present France derives around 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, and is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation. The Flamanville nuclear power plant on the Cotentin Peninsula has been in operation since the mid-1980s and its operator EDF is now in the process of constructing a new reactor at the site – Unit 3 (also known as Flamanville 3).

Unit 3 at Flamanville will consist of a 1,600MW reactor using the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design (the EPR is a third-generation pressurised water reactor). Unfortunately, construction of this new unit is significantly delayed and overbudget. According to a report in World Nuclear News EDF had planned for around €3.3 billion of capital expenditure on the project. The latest cost estimates from 2018 suggest that Flamanville 3 could cost as much as €10.9 billion.

The latest start-up date for Unit 3 at Flamanville is the fourth quarter of 2019.

3. Belarus Nuclear Power Plant

Location: Belarus
Value: $11bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2019

Despite being formerly part of the Soviet Union, which had an extensive civil nuclear power industry, Belarus has never had its own nuclear power plant. This will change when Atomstroyexport completes the construction of a 2.4GW nuclear plant in December 2019.

The Belarus nuclear power plant will feature two VVER-1200 reactors supplying a significant amount of electricity to the grid. At present Belarus generates almost all of its domestic electricity using imported natural gas. The new nuclear plant is expected to reduce gas imports by 5 billion m³ per year.

Should the Belarus plant prove to be successful, a further two reactors will be built on the site by 2025.

4. Olkiluoto 3 Nuclear Power Plant

Location: Finland
Value: $9.5bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2019

In operation since 1979, the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland is now being expanded with the addition of a 1,600MW European Pressurised Reactor (EPR). The operator of the plant TVO states that the new reactor is the first EPR to have gone into construction. Around 4,400 jobs will be created throughout the construction phase of the reactor. Between 150 and 200 permanent jobs will be created once the reactor starts-up in late 2019 / early 2020.

An interesting feature of the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant is the use of the plant’s waste heat which is used for the benefit of small-scale agriculture projects. These include the northenmost vineyard in the world, which yields approximately 850kg of grapes annually. There is also a pond for growing crabs, whitefish and sturgeon for caviar.

5. Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant Expansion (Units 3-4)

Location: Romania
Value: $8.8bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2020

Around 20% of Romania’s electricity comes from the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, and this figure is set to rise thanks to the expansion of the plant with the addition of two new reactors. China General Nuclear Power Corporation and Nuclearelectrica are leading the project and will oversee the installation of the two new Candu-6 reactors which will each have a capacity of 700MW.

The two new units will have an operating lifetime of 30 years with the possibility of a 25-year extension. The Romanian government has stated that by increasing the capacity of the Cernavoda plant and prioritising nuclear power generation, it can reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emission by over 10 million tonnes each year.

6. Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant Unit 5 & 6 Upgrade and Unit 7 New Build

Location: Bulgaria
Value: $7.7bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2023

With around one third of its electricity coming from nuclear power Bulgaria is no stranger to the industry, but with rising domestic electricity demand has taken the decision to upgrade two of the units at its Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant as well as adding a new Unit 7.

The work on Units 5 and 6 are focused on life extension and modernisation extending their operating lifetimes from 30 out to 60 years. The new seventh unit will see the addition of a 1,000MW pressurised water reactor. The Bulgarian government had been considering the construction of an entirely new nuclear plant but decided instead upon the upgrade and expansion of Kolzloduy instead.

7. Mohovce Nuclear Power Plant Phase II

Location: Slovakia
Value: $5.8bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2019

Originally constructed as a joint project between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, the Mohovce Nuclear Power Plant, situated around 75 miles east of Bratislava, has been providing electricity since 1998. With strong government commitment to nuclear power generation, the Mohovce plant is now being expanded with a second phase which will see the construction of Units 3 & 4 featuring two Russian-designed V-213 440MW reactors.

Until the early 2000s Slovakia had been a net exporter of electricity. Since then it has been a net importer of electricity. The addition of a Phase II to Mohovce aims to change this and help reduce the country’s reliance on foreign energy imports, particularly Russian natural gas.

8. Ringhals Nuclear Plant Life Extension

Location: Sweden
Value: $2.5bn (approx.)
Start-Up: 2020

Situated around 60 kilometres south of Gothenburg, the Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant has been providing electricity for Sweden since 1975. Now, the plant is undergoing a significant life extension project designed to allow it to operate until the mid-2040s. Such an extension is much-needed in light of Sweden’s continually increasing electricity consumption.

At approximately 16,500 kWh/yr per capita on average, individual electricity consumption is very high. Sweden has also set itself stringent carbon emission reduction targets, hence state operator Vattenfall’s utilisation of nuclear as a ‘bridging’ option towards renewables.

Major nuclear projects need major talent

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