Sweden mulls building new small nuclear reactors

Sweden’s state-owned energy company Vattenfall is investigating the possibility of installing new small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) at the site of an existing nuclear power plant to secure power supply.

Vattenfall, majority owner of the Ringhals nuclear power plant in the southwest of the country, has notified grid operator Svenska Kraftnat that it intends to install 2,800 megawatts on top of Ringhals’ current output of 2,190 megawatts and to connect the first new reactor to the grid by 2032, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a report by Aftonbladet newspaper.

A spokesperson for Vattenfall told Swedish Television (SVT) last November that “large-scale nuclear power is not feasible today” and Aftonbladet reported that the utility may instead aim to build several SMRs, each with an output of between 300 and 400 megawatts.

Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari told Aftonbladet that although smaller reactors may not offer the same economy of scale, they have other advantages, such as that “they are said to be cheaper and quicker to build.”

“2032 is very ambitious but it is urgent that (construction) is as quickly as possible,” Pourmokhtari told Aftonbladet.

Nuclear power accounts for approximately 30 percent of the electricity produced in Sweden, according to the Swedish Radiation Safety Agency.

Following the decommissioning of four reactors between 2017 and 2020, six reactors currently remain at three sites, according to the agency.

Partly as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, electricity prices in Sweden reached unprecedented levels in 2022, contributing to rampant inflation in the country.

Ahead of the election last September, the bloc that eventually won vowed to increase energy security and lower electricity prices through a policy that encourages the installation of new nuclear power plants.

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