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Sweden’s Nuclear Plans – Part Of A Trend

  • February 6th, 2009
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

Barsebäck nuclear power plant in Skåne, SwedenThe Swedish government is reported to be planning to scrap a nearly 30-year-old decision to phase out nuclear power and approve the construction of new reactors.

The decision comes amidst mounting European concern over climate change and energy security…

NEW POWER

The baning of nuclear energy came about after a referendum decision in 1980 to begin a gradual phase-out, and so far two of Sweden’s 12 reactors have been closed.

The centre-right government says it wants new reactors built to replace the old ones currently active; a decision which will need to be approved by Parliament.

The Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson said he was “doing this for the sake of my children and grandchildren”.

“I can live with the fact that nuclear power will be part of our electricity supply system in the foreseeable future,” he told the BBC.

Public backing for nuclear power has recently grown with concerns over global warming.

The 10 reactors in service provide about 50% of Sweden’s electricity supply.

SECURE ENERGY

The coalition government says replacement reactors would be needed to secure the country’s energy supply.

With combating climate change high on the agenda, the government has also proclaimed support for increased use of renewable energy such as wind power, but it says no state money will go towards those new projects.

EUROPE’S NUCLEAR REACTION

Countries planning to build new reactors include France, Britain and Poland; and Finland is currently building Europe’s first atomic plant in over a decade.

EDF Energy, one of the Britain’s largest energy companies, is aiming to construct four reactors in the United Kingdom, the first set to be running by 2018.

France announced this week one of its energy companies would build a reactor in northern France, due to be in service by 2017.

Reflecting mome pro-nuclear sentiment around the continent, the European Parliament rejected an amendment on Tuesday (03.2.09) that would have obliged member states to devise a nuclear phase-out plan.

A declaration was made that nuclear power should play an important part in the future energy mix, to be used “at the highest level of safety”.

The Parliament also had a debate this week on looking at new forms of energy security, saying the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute this Winter had been a fresh wake-up call for the EU.

Nuclear Power Plants in Operation in Europe, January 2009

tablenuclear.bmp

NUCLEAR FORUM

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), under European Commission auspices, took on the issue of nuclear energy as a viable technology for the future, at a recent conference (26.1.09).

Supporters declared nuclear energy was a technology similar to wind power, because [all being well – ed.] it had minimal impact on the environment and society.

“Nuclear energy should still feature in the long term despite the further development of renewable energies,” said one.

The forum also heard calls for “demystifying” information about nuclear energy for the public.

Dominique Ristori from the European Commission attacked “retention of information and sensationalism.”

“We need to get out of the secret [about nuclear energy] and [deal] with the public distrust with regards to nuclear policy”, he said.

EESC’s Edgardo Iozia said despite a positive shift of public opinion in favour of nuclear power, attitudes tended to change when people were asked if they would accept a nuclear station in their neighbourhood.

Anit-nuclear campaigners positive aspects of nuclear energy had yet to be “clearly demonstrated”, as a condition of public acceptance.

“The argument that nuclear energy is ‘carbon free’ and therefore a global warming solution, fails to account for the entire nuclear fuel cycle,” they said.

Reference:

Associated Press, ‘Sweden changes course on nuclear power’ (05.2.09), http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gnoJZPYRZX_-FG1tRogYfdxBmwgAD965COE80, (06.2.09).

BBC News, ‘Sweden aims to lift nuclear ban’ (05.2.09), http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7871824.stm, (06.2.09).

European Parliament, ‘Energy security: EP adopts blueprint for the EU’s future energy strategy’ (03.2.09), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/051-48107-033-02-06-909-20090203IPR48106-02-02-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm, (06.2.09).

European Parliament, ‘Gas crisis highlights need for energy security say MEPs’ (02.2.09), http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/051-47949-033-02-06-909-20090202STO47914-2009-02-02-2009/default_en.htm, (06.2.09).

European Economic and Social Committee, ‘Wanted: more transparent nuclear energy’ (26.1.09), http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=CES/09/12&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en, (06.2.09).

Picture:

Top to bottom – Swedish power plants in Skane, Forsmark, Oskarshamn and Varo Peninsula; wikimedia.org

Table:

The European Nuclear Society – www.euronuclear.org

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