Sweden delays Barsebäck reactor closure

Government rules that shutdown would risk increasing CO2 emissions through power imports

In a setback for its nuclear power phase-out programme, the Swedish government yesterday postponed next July's planned shut-down of the Barsebäck-2 nuclear reactor. Sweden could not make up the expected electricity shortfall quickly enough through extra renewable energy, industry minister Bjorn Rosengren said.

The announcement is a defeat for Sweden's national energy administration (STEM), which argued last week that deregulation of the Nordic power market meant the country no longer needed to be entirely self-sufficient in electricity (ENDS Daily 10 August). Europe's nuclear industry association Foratom said today that the decision had highlighted "the severe economic and environmental problems associated with government attempts to close nuclear plants for purely political reasons".

Last November, Barsebäck-1 became the first reactor to be closed under the phase-out programme, which follows a 1980 national referendum. Barsebäck's second reactor was slated to be second, but the government stipulated that its estimated annual output of 4 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity would have to be made up through new renewable capacity.

The government now admits that this cannot be achieved by next year, by when it expects an extra 2.5 TWh of production from renewables, not counting the existing hydropower network.

Mr Rosengren also suggested that closure of Barsebäck-2 risked sparking power shortages in southern Sweden. Any shortages "could increase the imports of power from coal and oil which would lead to increased emissions of carbon dioxide," he added. This prospect has always been a main argument advanced by Sweden's nuclear industry against the government's closure programme (ENDS Daily 10 October 1997).

Follow Up:
STEM, tel: +46 16 544 2008; SVK, tel: +46 8 739 7800; Foratom, tel: +32 2 502 4595, and press release.

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