Restart of damaged Swedish nuclear reactor delayed until 2023

Repair works on one of Sweden’s six remaining nuclear reactors have been delayed by two months to January 31, 2023, the plant’s owner, energy company Vattenfall, said.

Two weeks ago, the company announced that a vital component of the Ringhals 4 reactor had been damaged in connection with annual maintenance and that it would be up and running by November 30.

Now, it will not be restarted until well into the winter, in a further setback to power supply amid the Europe-wide energy crunch, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It is clear that this is a major interruption, both for us and for the electricity supply in Sweden,” Bjorn Linde, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ringhals nuclear power plant, told Swedish Television on Tuesday.

The reason for the delay is that the replacement of the damaged pressure vessel is more complicated than previously communicated, Ringhals said in a statement according to which more than 100 Ringhals employees are involved in developing work methods and producing special tools and spare parts.

A full-scale model of the nearly 13-metre high-pressure vessel is being built to test the tools and rehearse the operation.

“The pressure vessel is radioactive, all work is carefully prepared, and practicing in a test environment helps us work safely and efficiently when we are ready to carry out the actual repair work,” Linde said in the statement.

“We have a big job ahead of us, but the motivation is strong because nuclear power is in demand in southern Sweden. All available resources are being used to get Ringhals 4 back into operation,” he added.

The decommissioning of several reactors in 2017-2020 has left Sweden with three nuclear power plants with a total of six reactors that produce around 30 per cent of the country’s electricity output, according to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).

When the news of the damaged reactor first emerged in August, experts said that it would have a major impact on electricity prices in Sweden, especially in the more densely populated south.

Christian Holtz, an electricity market analyst at consulting company Merlin & Metis, then told TT news agency that the price of electricity was likely to soar even higher as most of Sweden’s electricity was produced in the north, and the reactor outage would deteriorate already existing problems in the power transmission grid.

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