Helsinki: The Finnish government endorsed the construction of two more nuclear power stations in a move to decrease the Nordic country`s dependence on imported energy.
Preliminary permission was given to Finnish utility TVO and Fennovoima, a consortium including Germany`s E On AG, to build the reactors, Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen said.
It was not clear when construction would start but Pekkarinen said the reactors were needed for Finland to be completely self-sufficient in electricity production by 2020.
The proposal requires parliamentary approval but it was expected to pass in the 200-member house where the four-party coalition government commands a clear majority.
The Greens, which have two Cabinet ministers, said it would oppose the centre-right coalition`s plans but its vote was unlikely to affect the decision.
"These projects guarantee the necessary energy for domestic industry and enterprises," Pekkarinen said yesterday.
"We will replace imported energy with these projects ... which are both safe and economical in our view."
Currently, Finland imports 30 percent of its total energy needs, mostly from Russia.
TVO plans to build a new reactor at Olkiluoto, the site of two 860-megawatt atomic plants and the country`s largest construction project to date - a 1,600-megawatt European Pressurised Reactor.
The USD 4 billion Olkiluoto 3 project, which was to have been online last year, has been plagued by faulty materials and planning problems since construction began in 2005. It is now not expected to produce electricity until after 2012.
Fennovoima has not made a definite decision on the site of its planned reactor.
Green party Labour Minister Anne Sinnemaki expressed dismay at the government decision.
"This proposal is a great disappointment to me because I have faith in sustainable alternatives, in other words renewable energy sources and energy efficiency," Sinnemaki told reporters.
Finland has four reactors producing more than a quarter of the country`s electricity. Two 500-megawatt reactors are on the southern coast in Loviisa, 90 kilometres east of the capital.