As winter approaches and the energy demand increases, Finland hopes to reduce its dependency on Russia. Nuclear power, once a source of public mistrust, has now become an attractive solution.
Finland is preparing to reopen Europe’s biggest nuclear reactor, Olkiluoto 3. Located on an island off Finland’s southwestern coast, the project began in 2005.
Several set-backs postponed the opening until September of this year, but the reactor was closed again because of technical issues.
Between 60% and 70% of the Finnish public now support nuclear power, which is well above the EU average. This hasn’t always been the case, with polls from the 1980s showing that only 40% of Finns were in favour of this energy source.
Finland’s Green party is similarly not opposed to nuclear energy, a stance not shared by their counterparts in other European countries.
Trust in state regulation is high
This shift in attitude has a number of explanations. Trust in state regulation is high in Finland, and many view nuclear power as an important tool in combating the climate crisis. What’s more, uranium allows Finland to become more self-sufficient in its energy production.
Finnish citizen Anna Viitanen told us: ‘"My opinion on nuclear power plants in Europe has changed this year. Since we can no longer depend on energy from Russia, it gives us independence."
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been using gas supplies as a bargaining chip, resulting in spiralling energy costs across Europe. EU states hope to wean themselves off Russian energy, but to do so, they must find alternative supplies.
Yet a minority of Finns still remain unconvinced by nuclear power. Some point to the possibility of accidents, or the problem of storing radioactive waste.
Jari Natunen, a Finnish biochemist, told us that we must change our lifestyles instead of resorting to nuclear energy.
“We can’t save the planet by consuming more," he says. "The time has ended for this kind of economy. We just need to reduce our consumption of goods and energy."