Russia moves in on Finnish nuclear energy market

Finland is to build a new nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russia, despite growing EU energy security fears.

Dungeness Nuclear Power Station

Finland has announced controversial new plans to build a nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russian firm Rosatom.

The nuclear reactor will be built on the condition that Finland maintains an energy partnership with Russia over the coming years.

Sampo Terho, who is an MEP for Finland and a substitute member of parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, said, “I welcome Fortum taking a stake in Fennovoima nuclear power plant project as positive news, which hopefully will help to advance the project”.

He added that “nuclear power is an important part of the efforts to achieve the EU’s climate targets and this project is a step in the right direction”.

Last October, member states agreed to work to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2030, and to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption by 2030.

The project has posed concerns due to Russia’s involvement, among deepening tensions between the country and the EU as the conflict in Ukraine rages on.

The strained relations between Russia and the EU have caused observers – including former council president Herman van Rompuy – to worry that Europe’s gas and energy supplies may be in jeopardy, as most of it is streamlined through Russia.

According to Eurostat data, in 2012, 33.7 per cent of the EU’s crude oil, 32 per cent of natural gas and 25.9 per cent of solid fuels were imported from Russia.

The commission has repeatedly expressed its hope for more energy security in Europe, and for the EU to produce more of its energy rather than relying on third countries. Last March, EU leaders asked the commission to come up with a plan to reduce the union’s energy dependence, especially to Russia.

Greens/EFA group co-president Rebecca Harms described the plans as “very regrettable”. She insisted that “the decision to build a new nuclear reactor is wrong; with a Russian partner, it is even worse, given the current situation in eastern Europe”.

The German deputy said, “seen from a European perspective the manoeuvre is totally contrary to the EU’s energy security goals, which aim to cut the EU’s damaging dependency on Russian energy”.

This is not the first time Rosatom has worked closely with a European firm, as it had previously teamed up with British company Rolls-Royce to assess the feasibility of introducing Russian nuclear reactor technology to the UK market.

Source: The Parliament Magazine

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