Heading into the winter months, people in Finland appear to be overwhelmingly supportive of the government’s energy efficiency measures and according to a recent survey, their attitude has also changed markedly towards nuclear power.
The rise in electricity prices has prompted Finns to reconsider their approach to the energy challenge, the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) think tank said in a statement.
In its autumn 2022 Values and Attitudes survey, the EVA looked at the public’s approach to different forms of electricity generation, reports Xinhua news agency.
It found social acceptance of solar energy to be the strongest (88 per cent), followed by hydropower (78 per cent) and wind power (77 per cent).
Sixty-seven per cent of survey respondents held a positive opinion about nuclear energy, and only 10 per cent expressed a contrary view.
They said that the expansion of the nuclear energy sector would be the best way to increase the country’s electricity production.
Support for the expansion of nuclear power was a significant 25 percentage points higher in autumn this year than three and a half years ago, the EVA noted.
“The clear majority of Finns have become supporters of nuclear power in just a few years. The explanation for this probably lies in the acute energy crisis, which the strongly increased production of renewable energy alone has not been able to respond to.”
The Values and Attitudes surveys of the 1980s provide a point of comparison for the current attitudes, the Eva said. The second such survey was conducted in the autumn of 1986, a few months after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Back then, 60 per cent rejected nuclear power. Today, the overwhelming majority in all population groups is opposed to the decommissioning of the country’s nuclear reactors.
“Finns have a very practical approach to the energy crisis,” EVA’s Managing Director Sami Metelinen said.
“Instead of support measures costing billions of euros, citizens want permanent solutions to the energy shortage, and the additional construction of nuclear power is seen as the best solution for this.”
The country’s next government, he said, is expected to make the decisions needed to secure the country’s long-term electricity supply.
However, the expansion of the country’s nuclear sector remains fraught with delays. The full start-up of the third reactor unit of the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant, originally scheduled for January 2023, has now been pushed back by a few weeks again.
The latest launch date, according to Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), the plant’s operator, is February 6, 2023 at the earliest.
Olkiluoto’s third reactor has been under construction since 2005. The reactor was originally slated for completion in 2009.
The most recent problems occurred in October, when cracks were found in the reactor’s feedwater pumps.
Olkiluoto 3 is expected to greatly increase Finland’s self-sufficiency in energy.
The third reactor’s nameplate capacity of 1,600 megawatts (MW) net electric output will represent around 10 per cent of the country’s total electricity generation capacity.
According to a the Finnish Energy Authority in early December, the country faces a greater than usual risk of power outages in the coming months.