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.