Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sweden goes nuclear - political fallout?

After acting as an "opponent" in Sweden recently examining a thesis that considers Sweden's energy alternatives it was clear that to hit their CO2 targets without nuclear and without more hydro it was next to impossible given the lack of a natural gas network.

It therefore comes as no surprise to hear that nuclear is again an option. This is the route that the UK has taken. When I mentioned this in Sweden it appeared not to even be a remote possibility.

Interesting how quickly things change when security of supply clashes with stringent CO2 targets.

I wonder how well this will go down with apparently left thinking Swedes.

Sweden scraps ban on nuclear power with plan to replace 10 reactors [Guardian]

The Swedish government plans to reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on building nuclear power plants, giving the green light to a new generation of reactors.

The centre-right government wants the new reactors to be built to replace the country's 10 existing stations.

The decision reverses a 1980 referendum when the majority of voters backed an end to nuclear expansion and the government pledged to phase out nuclear power plants.

But public support has grown since nuclear power has been repositioned as a low carbon energy source and a weapon in the fight against climate change. The decision by Sweden to back nuclear power contrasts with the nation's careful cultivation of its green image. In 2006, Sweden pledged to replace the use of all fossil fuels by 2020, but nuclear was not part of that plan.

Finland is currently the only country in the EU building a nuclear reactor. Its new Olkiluoto plant is being built in partnership with a consortium led by France's state-owned energy company, Areva. The project has been beset by delays and cost overuns, however, and is unlikely to be completed until 2012, three years behind schedule.

In the UK Gordon Brown's government is enthusiastic about building a new generation of reactors, arguing that both tackling global warming and ensuring security of energy supply are critical. German power giants E.ON and RWE are jointly bidding to build three stations, while EDF's takeover of British Energy has paved the way for it to construct a fleet of new atomic stations in the UK.


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