Safety scandals
Climate bluff
Cheap nuclear
Next steps
Act now!

Home > Climate Bluff >

Minister Katainen’s nuclear wonderland wouldn’t have low emissions or self-sufficiency

15.08.2008 Lauri Myllyvirta

The statements by Finland’s treasury minister Jyrki Katainen that new nuclear power plants would be the key to reduce Finland’s GHG emissions and dependency on energy imports are not founded on sound calculations or understanding of energy systems. Greenpeace condemned the idea of exporting large quantities of power to other European countries and warned that the minister’s statements were an attempt to draw attention away from the failures of Olkiluoto 3 project.

Greenpeace Press Release

– The conservatives are putting nuclear power above domestic, renewable energy regardless of clear economic benefits of the latter. It is important to note that Katainen has set a clear target for nuclear capacity additions but mentions no such concrete targets for GHG emissions or energy self-sufficiency. The conservatives are only using these noble goals to greenwash their nuclear obsession, Greenpeace energy campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta said.

The Finnish energy industry lobby has advocated a package of measures that closely resembles that of the conservatives, but in a more honest manner. Their calculations show that building two more nuclear power plants would fail to cut the GHG emissions associated with power production even to 1990 levels by 2020, whereas national emissions need to be 30% below those levels in 2020. The conservatives have not, for obvious reasons, provided any such estimates.

– The conservatives think more nuclear can replace fossil-fired power plants and electricity imports, which are used to respond to peaks in electricity consumption. What the conservatives are entirely missing, is that nuclear reactors cannot deliver peak-load power. Peak-load demand can be most effectively curtailed by new, energy efficient technologies and solutions, which the conservatives have so far chosen to ignore. We expect the conservatives to support measures to address growth in energy consumption in order to make the 30 percent emission reduction target achievable, Myllyvirta continued.

It makes no sense to even discuss a seventh nuclear power plant when the fifth has run into severe safety problems, has already overshot its budget by 2 billion euros and fallen more than two years behind schedule, setting power consumers back by 3 billion euros. Experiences from Olkiluoto clearly show that the conservatives’ illusions of cheap nuclear power only lead to neglect of basic safety standards. The containment building of the Olkiluoto reactor was welded for more than half a year before mandatory welding guidelines were approved, tests to ensure durability of welds were not carried out and there were no qualified welding supervisors for months.

Finland’s energy needs can be met at acceptable cost without nuclear power or other environmentally destructive sources of energy. A recent report written by the consultancy Gaia Consulting for Greenpeace shows that energy efficiency measures can reduce Finland’s electricity consumption by the equivalent of two large nuclear power plants by 2020 compared to forecast. Government’s own research shows that the amount of power equivalent to two more large nuclear power plants can be produced from renewable sources by 2020.

Energy campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta, +358 50 3625 981
Communications director Juha Aromaa, +358 50 3696 202