Swedish utility mulls building new small nuclear reactors

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish power utility Vattenfall said Tuesday it is considering building at least two new small nuclear reactors to deal with a projected rise in electricity consumption over the coming decades.

Sweden initially had aimed to phase out nuclear power generation — which currently supplies about 40% of its needs — by 2010. But in 2009 lawmakers decided to allow replacement of existing reactors with new ones, and opinion polls show that most Swedes agree.

Vattenfall said it was “initiating a pilot study looking at the conditions for building at least two small modular reactors” close to Ringhals power station, Sweden’s largest. It sits some 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Sweden’s second city, Goteborg, and has so far generated 15%-20% of power used in the country.

The state-owned energy group also said in a statement that it was “working actively to find out how different fossil-free energy sources can satisfy increased demand for electricity.”

Many European countries are scrambling to find alternative means of electricity production amid rising costs due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, efforts to wean the continent off Russian fossil fuels, and a drive to invest in greener energy.

Vattenfall CEO Anna Borg stressed that “no investment decisions have been.”

“There is a need for more electricity generation in southern Sweden, which is why the pilot study is focusing on the conditions for building SMRs … primarily close to Ringhals nuclear power plant,” Borg said.

Should it turn out to be profitable and all conditions for a future investment decision are met, including new regulations for nuclear power, she said it should be possible to have the first new reactor in operation by the early 2030s.

Sweden, a country of about 10 million, has a total of six active reactors at three plants: three at the Forsmark plant north of Stockholm, one at the southeastern Oskarshamn plant and two at Ringhals.

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