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Energy turnaround in Sweden

by DoDo Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 08:22:19 AM EST

Sweden was one of the countries where an exit from nuclear power was decided in a referendum after the Three Mile Island accident. That exit famously came to nothing, no government after the 1980 vote seriously pursued the construction of replacement capacity. Indeed although Sweden was among the first European countries with installed wind power and has a large land area, for years it only added a few dozen megawatts of new capacity a year.

It was no surprise, then, that public opinion on nuclear came around, and in February 2009, Fredrik Reinfeldt's right-wing government could initiate a reversal of the policy against constructing new nuclear plants, which the parliament of Sweden (the Riksdag) approved a year ago. In October 2009, as reported on ET, the first plan for a new plant was announced, in the form of a partnership between an industry group and energy giant Vattenfall. Two weeks ago, however, these plans were buried.


The original partners behind the new nuclear plant plans, who argued that a nuclear plant is needed to keep prices down so that industry and jobs will stay in Sweden:

Vattenfall mulls new Swedish nuke plants - The Local

Vattenfall confirmed reports that it is to continue a partnership with Industrikraft, a firm formed last summer with the goal of providing nuclear power to Swedish industry.

...The firms behind Industikraft include some of Sweden's major industrial firms, such as paper firm Holmen, SCA, Boliden and Eka Chemicals.

Industrikraft was formed less than six months before the government parties agreed to lift a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power.

I presume the last bit is to indicate that the lifting of the moratorium itself was in response to lobbying from, and for the benefit of, the members of Industrikraft. At least that's what Lise Nordin, the energy policy speaker of the Swedish Greens, suggests:

Kraftbolagen ser bristen på lönsamhet | Brännpunkt | SvD Power companies see lack profitability | Focal | SvD
För ett år sedan fattade riksdagen med minsta möjliga marginal beslutet att tillåta nya kärnreaktorer i Sverige. Bakom beslutet låg Folkpartiet med Jan Björklund i spetsen, men initiativtagare var egentligen en löst sammansatt lobbyorganisation som heter Industrikraft. Den bestod av flera stora svenska industriföretag och energibolag, bland andra Vattenfall, som hade bildats enkom i syfte att driva igenom ett politiskt beslut om att tillåta nya reaktorer.A year ago, the Riksdag made the decision by the narrowest of margins to allow new reactors in Sweden. The decision was brought in by the Liberal People's Party, headed by Jan Björklund, but the initiative was really one of a loosely connected lobbying organization called Industrikraft. It consisted of several large Swedish industrial and energy companies, including Vattenfall, which had been formed solely in order to push through a political decision to permit the construction of new reactors.

So, why were the plans abandoned now? The official press release suggests that the commercial terms weren't right. In that context, Nordin points to the doubling of costs at the Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland, and the expected extra costs of new safety measures after Fukushima. But, there is more:

Att svenska kraftbolag finner det svårt att räkna på lönsamhet med att bygga ny kärnkraft beror på två saker: dels att el från nya kärnreaktorer kommer att bli dyrare än el från nya vindkraftverk, bioenergi och en smartare elanvändning, och dels att Sverige går mot ett stort elöverskott. Det kommer inte att finnas efterfrågan på ny kärnkraftsel.The reason the Swedish power company finds it hard to calculate profitability for building a new nuclear power plant is based on two things: first, that electricity from the new nuclear reactors will be more expensive than electricity from new wind turbines, bio-energy and a smarter consumption of electricity, and the fact that Sweden is going to have a large electricity surplus. It will not have demand for new nuclear electricity.
Enligt Energimyndighetens långtidsprognos bedöms Sverige ha ett elöverskott på 23 TWh till 2020. Detta motsvarar ungefär hälften av vad kärnkraften levererade förra året. Utifrån detta är det förståeligt att den ekonomiska kalkylen för att göra en ny storsatsning på kärnkraft blir mycket osäker, för att uttrycka saken försiktigt.According to the long term prognosis of the [Swedish] Energy Agency, Sweden is expected to have an electricity surplus of 23 TWh by 2020. This represents about half of what nuclear power delivered last year. From this it is understandable that the economic calculus to make a large investment in nuclear power is very uncertain, to put it gently.

Surplus? Indeed there have been some changes recently. Wind installations shot up above 200 MW a year in 2007, so that total installed capacity doubled in two years; then the annual rate of new installations jumped again above 500 MW, so that the total again doubled in two years (reaching 2,163 MW at the end of 2010); all the while major new projects both in the Baltic Sea and on-shore are in the pipeline.

Display:
I hope I (and Google translate) got the translations more or less right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 08:23:07 AM EST
The translation is fine.

A minor mistranslation: "Liberal People's Party head Jan Björklund" should be "Liberal People's Party headed by Jan Björklund" or "Liberal People's Party with Jan Björklund spearheading the effort".

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 11:56:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to note: thanks, changed accordingly. The translation was 'experimental' BTW; where I didn't trust Google I tried to recognise words by guessing the similar German equivalent.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 09:36:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had to check the report, which is found here (pdf, 124 pages in swedish).

In their main scenario the parts of electricity production that increases are (page 23) wind, but more so electricity from combined electricity/heating plants. This is a long term trend where the foolish policy of direct electrical heating is phased out and mainly replaced by distributed heating. This has already come a long way (page 24) from just over 30 TWh in distributed heating in 1990 to almost 50 TWh now. This increase comes mainly from increased use of biofuels. Apparently the prognosis is that biofuels will not increase much more, instead we will see more peat and gas burnt.

The alternative scenario where nuclear power starts to be phased out has more windpower built but also more gas used.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 11:54:12 AM EST
Thanks for the link! Apparently, they also see existing nuclear to continue until 2030 with increased efficiency. And only 6.9 TWh annual wind production in 2020 (against 2.5 TWh in 2009), which may be conservative even without a new focused pro-wind policy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 01:09:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
Apparently, they also see existing nuclear to continue until 2030 with increased efficiency.

I think that is reasonable. Ten reactors with improvements is something both blocs can live with. If nuclear power returns as a big question both blocs risks being torn apart with Centre, Greens and commies returning to their position of dismantling and liberals, conservatives and soc-dems wanting expansion. That would recreate the conditions around 1980 with weak minority governments and this time it will not end with an almost majority for the soc-dems. Grand coalition is politically impossible in Sweden, WWII being the exception.

As I see the current situation, the liberals and the Centre are allowed to argue to the homecrowd, but the Moderates calls the shots. If a new reactor is built I expect it to replace an old one.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 03:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And replacement is then likely to be in the shape of the dismantling of a 450 MW unit and the construction of a new ~1650 MW one.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 06:37:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And both Centre and Liberals would claim it as a victory.

"We got them to shut down an old dangerous reactor!"

"We built more nuclear power!"

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 10:07:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Win-win... ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 01:59:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Replacing nuclear-and-hydro sourced electric heating with gas fired district heat is not an improvement - it is a massive step backwards for the enviorment.
The first policy is carbon neutral, or nearly, and indefinately sustainable. The second has nearly as high emissions as burning coal, and wastes a very highvalue resource. I suppose you nuclear CHP district heating would be the optimal solution, but that would not fit at all with the direction of nuclear policy in Sweden, because it would require a largish number of small reactors, not ten very big ones.
by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Waste and wood fired district heating. Gas is pretty rare, and even with the expansion in the prognosis, the increase in gas is mainly at the expense of oil and coal.

A correction about peat: Peat is prognosticated to decrease, not increase. The big increase is instead in burning more waste.

Direct electric heating, in effect using electrical radiators, is an intentionally wasteful way to heat residential homes. At least run a heat pump at the end and get more heat from the electricity.

Direct electrical heating was pushed by Vattenfall in the 70ies and 80ies (in then secret (now de-classified) deals with local utilities) to create greater demand for electricity.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:41:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It should be noted that the Centre Party, which is part of the government coalition, peasant and somewhat green and anti-nucllear, has said a couple of times that they believe that the details of the legislation will prevent new actual plants.

Of course, the Centre Party believed the same in 1976, which turned out to be wrong (the bureacracy was on the side of nuclear) and led to a series of crisis and shortlived governments on the right.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 12:03:28 PM EST
Ha! Take that, nuclear advocates! Done in by the sacred market.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 12:52:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think anyone who actually understand the economics of power generation (this excludes many economists) believes nuclear power can compete in a free, deregulated marketplace, not anymore than wind can. Only gas power can do that. Both wind and nuclear require some kind of regulation that provide earnings stability, and hence results in the crucial cheap debt financing.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 02:51:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"A free, deregulated market" which includes externalities will have wind cheaper than all but efficiency, including gas. Without externalities it's a politically constructed market, not free.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 04:09:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Without regulations - internal or external - it is not even a market. All markets are politically constructed in one way or the other.

Free market! is a slogan like Free Willy!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 04:46:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we have to take the markets as they are. We like to call them "free" because we like our "freedom fries".

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 10:05:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wind and gas don't sell the same product, so the question of which is "cheaper" is not meaningful, any more than the question of whether a Volkswagen car is cheaper or dearer than a Boeing fighter jet.

If you want to run gas as baseload, wind is cheaper even when it's allowed to externalise the costs that it currently is.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 04:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same product or not, in the world of energy decision-making, including financially, wind and gas have been competing directly for decades. Most recently, low gas prices have decapitated the USian wind market.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 05:35:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's due to regulatory decisions to promote marginal cost pricing through energy market design.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 05:53:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For example, in a system of long term guaranteed maximum prices for power, every time the price of gas would go up, it would decapitate the natural gas producers, once they had burned through the windfall gains they had received when natural gas prices were low.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 13th, 2011 at 10:23:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wrote:

Wind installations shot up above 200 MW a year in 2007, so that total installed capacity doubled in two years; then the annual rate of new installations jumped again above 500 MW, so that the total again doubled in two years

I wonder why, however. Is the reason technical, that is the fact that low-wind turbines and cold weather resiliency are now standard products? Or some exchange rate effect? Or the effect of some policy change?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 01:12:00 PM EST
Better/cheaper turbines, more expensive power as a result of deregulation and the fact that the wind subsidiy system had gotten solidly into place.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 02:53:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
more expensive power as a result of deregulation

the same deregulation that was effected to lower consumer prices by embracing competition, a bigger choice menu and the free market widget, right?

soma swiggers...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 13th, 2011 at 09:40:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That very deregulation yes, and which promises led the big industrial companies to sell their hydroplants to the power companies.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 14th, 2011 at 07:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There has been some regulatory efforts back and forth, but I would say it is mostly a result of successes elsewhere. Windpower has become affordable (thanks to all countries that has had feed-in tariffs (not Sweden)) and reached a scale in Sweden where the organisational basis for everything exists - engineers, consultants, companies.

So if it is profitable, it will be built. And it is profitable as long as energy is expensive. Sweden also has plenty of sparsely populated windy areas with excellent connection to the grid (big hydro is generally speaking in the same sparsely populated areas). The local NIMBY interests are mostly organised against uranium mining, so not much organised resistance.

Example: IKEA satsar på vindkraft

Som en del i IKEAs hållbarhetsarbete investerar företaget nu i en vindkraftpark. Parken kommer att producera el motsvarande behovet hos de 17 svenska IKEA varuhusen. Parken består av 9 vindkraftverk som tas i drift i början av 2012. Vindkraftsbolaget O2 bygger parken och kommer att stå för driften.

Short translation: Ikea hires company O2 to build them a windpower park with output equivalent to IKEAs power consumption in Sweden.

Against windpower is mainly a prevailing belief in the inherit unseriousness of it, but as windpower grows that appears to pale. Regional politicians are now very interested in getting new jobs from windpower manufacturing and the question starts to be why we should not be able to do things better then the danish, considering the inherit unseriousness of the danish being better at anything industrial.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 03:04:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
danish posers !  Let them stick to their Tivoli frivolity.

The Danes have really showed up a number of countries with their wind initiative.

by rootless2 on Mon Jul 11th, 2011 at 07:20:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Against windpower is mainly a prevailing belief in the inherit unseriousness of it

Yep. And this mainly comes from brilliant arguments such as "the wind does not blow all the time" and "you need 1000 wind turbines to replace one reactor", sometimes with the addition of "turbines are only built because of subsidies".

Now, we all know that the fact that the wind doesn't blow all the time is no real problem, that building 1000 turbines have costs of the same magnitude as building one reactor, and that nukes can't be built without "subsidies" either.

The best argument against the inherent unseriousness of windpower is this picture.

Though I suppose soon we'll have hippies complaining about "large wind". :P

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 07:14:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a photo or a montage? I guess the latter, because no way they let a helicopter there when the blades aren't turned out of the wind.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 07:36:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except the blades are turned out of the wind.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 12:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm? No way are they turned out of the wind. Especially the lower one. Methinks this is the montage of a helicopter photo and a B&W turbine drawing, just look at the 'shadows', the missing windows and cooler grate and antenna, the colour of the railing and the position of its platform. Here are actual photos of helicopters above REpower 5M units, the first from off-shore servicer FRISIA-WIKING Offshore:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 12:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On second thought, the first of the above two photos is a montage, too... of a photo at the second location (dampened sunset lights across clouds) and a photo of the sea (sunny).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 01:01:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always wondered if they've got a small table, some chairs and a coffee machine inside those windows.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 02:01:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the first drawing, the blades are drawn in the direction of rotation, or into the stopped position. To start up, the blades are turned to the plane of the wind, or away from the rotational direction. As windspeed and power increase, the the blades are pitched into the direction of rotation, so the apparent wind is the vector between actual wind and apparent wind.

In the 3rd photo (REpower 5M at Brunsbuttel), the blades are nearly in start-up position. Helicopter could be allowed as the turbine might be yawed out of the wind direction.

In any case the rotor (safety) stop is fixed at the main bearing, to prevent rotation, and the shaft brakes are also applied.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 02:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jul 12th, 2011 at 02:32:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought about it but I still don't get it. According to this Enercon E82 manual for example, the shutdown and storm position of the blades is the "feathered position", that is parallel to the airflow and perpendicular to the plane of rotation (which indeed gives the least cross section). That's also the position I saw actual stopped turbines in actual heavy wind in Western Hungary. Also on this image from Wikipedia showing the "feathered position" on turbines stopped before decommissioning:

Is the stopped position different for different models of turbines, or am I missing something?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 13th, 2011 at 03:18:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is feathered the position to bring it to a halt, or the position to put it in once it has been halted?

And surely it makes a difference whether the blades are facing into the wind or are perpendicular to the wind?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jul 13th, 2011 at 10:26:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The current form of nuclear law in Sweden limits the utilities to ten nuclear plants, total. Which means, in order to build a new one, they would have to turn off an existing - already paid for and operating - reactor with typically another 2 decades of operation left in it.

Yhea, I can see why there might be a slight problem with making the buisness case for doing that, as all ten extant reactors are guaranteed money printing machines, while the profitability of new build are uncertain. That said, it might still happen, but the price of power exported from Sweden would have to go very high to justify it. - The price of power domestically in Sweden is never going to do it, too much hydro keeping prices low.

by Thomas on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 07:03:00 AM EST
This particular law is really sort of daft, by the way, as what it effectively amounts to is a ban on any reactor designs other than the very largest. Which is not a sensible way to pick what nuclear reactor designs to use. Size should follow from other criteria, like safety, economics, and a proven record of timely construction, not be an artificially imposed criteria of its own.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 07:14:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't say Oskarshamn 1 has 20 years of profitable life left in itselt, though I'm no expert. But sure, the law is not perfect. However, it's good enough for now, as it allows a de facto nuclear expansion.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 04:40:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alternatively, new build might happen if one of the extant reactors acquires technical problems.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 18th, 2011 at 07:04:57 AM EST


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