There is no way around it. West, or Sweden, has always been the direction Finland has modelled itself on. Calling Sweden the big brother of Finland is not unheard of, either. This is no surprise, considering the long period of time that the two were part of the same country.
However, in nuclear power policy, for a long time the two neighbours did not walk hand in hand. Based on a referendum, Sweden decided to phase out nuclear power for good already in the early 1980s, when Finland was only just starting its own atomic energy journey.
The world has changed vastly, and Sweden has followed suit. With respect to nuclear power, we can even talk about a 180-degree turn. And indeed, also in Sweden Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government that came into power a little over a year ago has changed gears completely.
Actually, it all comes down to just two words. Whereas Sweden Incorporated previously defined her energy goal as “100% renewable sources” by the year 2040, the new government sworn in last autumn amended the definition to state “100% fossil free”.
This may seem like a minor change, but it has a huge impact. In practice, it is a clear expression of support to nuclear power.
The Swedish government elaborated their plans in November and listed several courses of action. The government will appoint a nuclear power coordinator to promote nuclear projects. The government also plans to build a financing model, provide public funding to investments and is looking into possible risk-sharing by the government.
Sweden also published their schedule goals at the same time: regulatory licensing will start in 2025–2026 with two large nuclear reactors to be built by 2035 and an increase in nuclear power comparable to 10 large reactors achieved by 2045. The latter goal is based on both small modular reactors and larger ones.
Finland is in a good position
The ambitious plans set up in Sweden are good news for Finland and the nuclear sector. The construction of nuclear power will gain momentum, making us increasingly important to the clean transition. Finland and Sweden will both prosper. This is guaranteed by clean electricity production, ambitious climate policies, and high competence levels.
Finland and Sweden can benefit from many cooperation opportunities, particularly in terms of licensing and commissioning of nuclear power. The most important success factor for the profitability of nuclear power is the possibility of series production.
Finland and Sweden are in a good position to construct identical facilities, both small and large. That is what we did in the 1970s, when we built copies of the Swedish Asea-Atom (OL1 and OL2) in Finland.