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Timo Okkonen

“We want to become a responsible power company that can offer a rewarding career for all the people working for us,” says Timo Okkonen, Fennovoima’s acting CEO and COO. Photos by Heli Blåfield

Looking at the entire lifecycle of a power plant

When the goal is a power plant that is ready for operation and safe, you must take into account its entire lifecycle already during the design phase. The Hanhikivi 1 project is guided by a long-term roadmap and clearly determined areas of responsibility.

The development program and organizational restructuring initiated at the beginning of this year have shaped and streamlined the Hanhikivi 1 project. Operating methods and the organizational model have been changed, and responsibilities have been clarified. These changes have streamlined both design and cooperation with the plant supplier and the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), which is overseeing the project. 

The year has been highly successful. We have carried on with the changes in a determined and diligent manner,” says Timo Okkonen, Fennovoima’s acting CEO and COO.

Safety issues and the assessment of system plans have caused the highest workloads. Plant-level design solutions related to safety were handled first. The work has proceeded full steam after that: the plant supplier RAOS Project Oy has delivered most of the hundreds of system plans for the company to assess.

Once we have efficiently completed this work, we will be able to make decisions regarding the overall site plan and the exact locations of the different buildings. We are proceeding at a good pace now, attempting to focus on the most essential questions of each phase.”

Preparations of the safety, design, quality, and operation of the power plant must proceed in parallel to stay in a reasonable schedule.

“In the next two years, our goal is to have the first design phase completed, the construction license documentation finished, and the design finalized. Furthermore, we aim to be fully prepared to begin construction in three years and operation in less than ten years.”

Towards next year

Many tasks are also ongoing at the site area. For example, an identified fracture zone has been studied in detail, and the results of the studies have been presented to STUK. The goal for the rest of the year is to verify sufficiency of the analyses in terms of nuclear safety.

Next, construction of the administration building will start on the Hanhikivi peninsula. Excavation related to the construction of the reactor will also start next year.

Our goal is, that by the end of this year, to verify the exact location of the nuclear reactor and ‘freeze’ the plan for the entire plant area. This way, we will be able to start preparing the plant area for construction of the nuclear power plant.”

“We are working hard, that due to good quality of design, we can make sure that we are ready to start construction.”

Manufacture of the plant’s first main components started in October. The turbine generator rotor will be manufactured in Japan and machined in France. Fennovoima will oversee the progress in accordance with the inspection program.

Construction license is staging post

Matters concerning the safety, design, quality, and operation of the nuclear power plant are of utmost importance for the project. A strong safety culture means considering all of these aspects in different tasks, solutions, and decisions, as well as in related interaction with the plant supplier and subcontractors.

“We are working hard, that due to good quality of design, we can make sure that we are ready to start construction. We are more actively anticipating the future steps, because the plant supplier requires more guidance than originally expected.”

Construction of the power plant itself requires a construction license to be recommended by STUK and granted by the Government. The goal is to obtain the license by the end of 2021. The construction license is an important staging post:

Our objective is to successfully complete the construction work to produce a safe and reliable power plant. This is why we try to think and act like we already had the plant under construction or in operation. We plan our operations in the long term, looking at the entire lifecycle of the plant and even past it, up to a hundred years into the future. As the regulatory authority, this is surely what STUK expects from us.” 

Roadmap guides the goal

The development program has made the work more energetic and faster. The program was named “reprogramming”, because its purpose is to reform the entire project. 

We created the program in the form of a roadmap with four focus areas: safety, design, quality, and operation. After this year, we no longer wish to talk about a development program. Instead, we will refer to management based on a good overall picture and taking the correct steps to proceed.”

The new organizational model specifies clear areas of responsibility for Fennovoima’s different units and some 400 experts. The Utility Operations “owns” the different parts and functions of the plant. The Project Management organization makes sure that the plant supplier’s schedule is of a high quality and the contractual terms are met. Meanwhile, Support Functions serve all the people working for Fennovoima and anybody interested in the company.

The clear areas of responsibility and ‘ownerships’ motivate the experts and release plenty of constructive energy. It’s important to be aware of which people make decisions on the acceptability of the construction license documentation, the turbine island, or the schedule, for example.”

Implementing new operating methods

Fennovoima has not only reprogrammed its own decision-making processes but also cooperation with the plant supplier. 

We want to be a smart customer for the plant supplier and ultimately a responsible licensee of Hanhikivi 1 to benefit the whole of Finland. Instead of just commenting on specific documents, we comment on the acceptability of technical design and implementation quality.

This allows us to highlight any of the plant supplier’s design solutions and operating models that require improvement or a more extensive reform. Naturally, the plant supplier carries the ultimate responsibility for the design and construction of the plant based on the contract.”

More specific design phase

The design of the entire nuclear power plant can be divided into the reactor island, the turbine island, and buildings and structures outside the power plant. Plant design is about to transfer to a phase of more detailed design of buildings and systems.

The next step will be ensuring compatibility of the different system and construction plans in cooperation with the plant supplier. To aid us in this work, we will use a three-dimensional model of the plant created by the plant supplier to see what the plant will look like on the inside.

Right now, this is the most critical job in terms of the project’s progress, because ensuring both safety and availability is important. This challenging phase must be completed by the end of next summer so that we can move onto finalizing the design and ensuring readiness for construction in due time.”