Montel Magazine 3 2022 - Pipeline sabotage 3 - Page 19

“ Nuclear power is necessary for Sweden ’ s electricity supply , the climate and the green transition .
Therefore , we want to build more nuclear power in Sweden and keep the nuclear power we have ”

Sweden bets on nuclear as green gamble falters

Sweden ’ s potential new government is betting on nuclear to turn its energy fortunes around on concerns about capacity shortages in the south of the country .
By Olav Vilnes . Additional Reporting by Anton Tigerstedt and Wilhelm Zakrisson
Nevertheless , it may take several years for projects to come online , with outgoing energy minister Khasahayar Farmanbar saying new nuclear units are unlikely to come into operation before 2035-40 .
His comments come in the light of Europe seeing energy prices spiral in recent months amid a supply squeeze due to the fallout from Russia ’ s war in Ukraine , with spot power in southern Sweden leaping to a record high EUR 500 / MWh – 10 times above normal .
This is prompted mainly by closures of nuclear capacity in the south and intermittent wind output , leading unsurprisingly to energy policy becoming a hot topic in September ’ s general election .
It helped opposition centre-right parties oust the incumbent Social Democrat / Green coalition on a pro-nuclear agenda , with Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson likely to become new prime minister in a coalition with the Christian Democrats , supported by the Liberals and the far-right Sweden Democrat party .
Together they pledged EUR 37bn in loan guarantees for new reactors and also aimed to change legislation that would allow small modular reactors ( SMRs ) to be built .
“ Nuclear power is necessary for Sweden ’ s electricity supply , the climate and the green transition . Therefore , we want to build more nuclear power in Sweden and keep the nuclear power we have ,” said the Moderate party , with the country wedded to a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 .
“ We don ’ t want to specify how many reactors should be built , that is up to the market . But we will most likely need thousands of megawatts of non-intermittent generation capacity in southern Sweden in the coming years ,” Mattias Backstrom Johansson , energy spokesman of the Sweden Democrats , recently told Montel .
New capacity is particularly vital given Sweden ’ s growing demand for carbon-free electricity from the likes of the energy-intensive transport sector and its steel industry in order to meet the strict climate targets .
In a recent study the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise , for instance , expect power demand to double to 290 TWh by 2050 .
Nuclear closures had compounded capacity concerns in the south of
Montel Magazine 3 – 2022 the country , with reactors Ringhals 1 and 2 ( 1.7 GW combined ) shuttered in the last three years , leading to concerns about supply in the area on days of low wind / solar and a wide power price divergence with the hydropower-rich north of the country .
This year , spot prices in the north have averaged EUR 38.76 / MWh , which compares to EUR 153.51 / MWh in the south . But spot prices in the latter would have been 30 % lower if Ringhals 1 and 2 had still been in operation , said researchers at the Energiforsk Institute in a study
Since the turn of the century , the country has halved its nuclear fleet to six , reducing available capacity from 12 GW to 4.7 GW . In the meantime , the share of intermittent wind power in the country ’ s generation mix has risen from zero to more than 20 %, leading to increased price volatility .
While the nuclear aims may be laudable , experience in neighbouring countries show new reactors cannot be built overnight , with the likes of Finland ’ s Olkiluoto 3 currently preparing for commercial launch 13 years behind schedule , making smaller-scale projects more feasible .
Karnfull Next , a Swedish cleantech start-up , announced earlier this year it planned to commission the country ’ s first SMR as early as 2029 , having signed a memorandum of understanding with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy for a 300 MW unit .
Vattenfall , Sweden ’ s largest power producer , is also considering investing in SMRs but to do so needed to see both regulatory changes and strong political support across parties , said CEO Anna Borg .
Earlier this year , however , it initiated preliminary studies for at least two such units at its Ringhals site , with results due in late 2023 or early 2024 , with a view to having one in operation “ by the early 2030s ”.
Before that , operators have said they could boost output from existing reactors by roughly 300 MW – or 2.3 TWh / year – through upgrades , with the country ’ s remaining six units currently permitted to run to the 2040s .
In the meantime , amid the regional energy supply squeeze , Sweden ’ s incoming government will need to appeal to consumers to reduce consumption , while continuing to bet on investments in renewables to meet demand and future emissions reduction targets . n 19