Nuclear phase-out

The first of the 12 nuclear power plants in Sweden closes operation

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

sweden's decision to phase out its 12 nuclear power plants by 2010 took a significant step forward on November 30 when it closed its first plant, Barseback 1, which is situated on the country's west coast. Nuclear power plants generate almost half of the electricity needs of the country, of which Barseback 1 accounted for three per cent of the power generated. It was commissioned 24 years ago and could have continued operations till 2015.

The nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island in the us in 1979 stirred a debate in Sweden over phasing out nuclear power plants. In a referendum that followed, it was decided that all such plants would be phased out.

Some experts say that Sweden will need to import electricity during the winter from coal-fired Danish plants. This would not only lead to an escalation of Swedish energy prices, but also jeopardise Denmark's commitment, under terms of the Kyoto environmental accord, to cut its carbon dioxide emissions.

Says H G Wessberg, deputy managing director of the Federation of Swedish Industries: "It's a dark day for Sweden. It is senseless to voluntarily dispossess ourselves of one of the few competitive advantages we have." However, a spokesperson for the industry ministry said that Sweden had a power surplus and would not need to import electricity.

Analysts, who are closely watching the situation, say the decision to close Barseback was more political than due to safety concerns. It was the minority Social Democratic government's decision, which was taken about three years ago, to gain the support of the anti-nuclear Centre Party. Sweden plans to close all the other plants, but says it will depend on the development of alternative sources of energy.

The next reactor is due to be phased out by the summer of 2001.

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