Growing tension over possible sixth nuclear facility

Finland must decide whether it should build a sixth nuclear reactor and establish a new state energy company to build essential new power capacity, concludes a report from the Energy Markets Commission (EMC), appointed by the government to assess its energy strategy. A new energy company would ensure greater emphasis on new investments in wind, hydro and biofuel energy, says EMC's Matti Purasjoki. The report is likely to prove controversial, with the country's Green Party already threatening to boycott political alliances with mainstream parties that support nuclear. There is a "growing elite in Finland" pushing for a sixth nuclear facility "decorated with wind and promises of more investments in bioenergy," says the Green Party's Tarja Cronberg. "What is clear is that there will be no real advances in the use of wind power or bioenergy in Finland if a sixth reactor becomes a reality." Political groups such as the National Coalition Party (NCP) argue that a sixth reactor offers the best energy alternative to reduce carbon emissions; though investment in renewables is desirable. "In the end, we will have to choose between fossil fuels and nuclear power," says the NCP's Jyrki Katainen. "A significant increase in imported power could be an alternative, but renewable energy on its own does not provide the solution we need. The sixth nuclear reactor is the best energy option Finland has." The government agrees most with EMC's recommendations for renewables, says industry minister Mauri Pekkarinen. The government hopes to have concrete proposals, including improved state incentives for wind projects, in place next year, ahead of the spring national election.

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