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Sweden pivots towards nuclear power for its energy future

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By Colin Hay - 
Sweden nuclear power energy fossil free

International energy analysts are predicting that Sweden is preparing to make nuclear power a key plank of its energy future after its parliament revoked a proposed 100% renewable plan.

According to reports coming out of Sweden, the national parliament has voted to include nuclear generation in its fossil-free targets which are aimed at making the Scandinavian country 100% fossil fuel-free by 2045.

The country has previously unveiled plans to achieve its transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045 via other energy options.

Electricity demand in the country is expected to reach 300 terawatt-hours by 2040.

“This creates the conditions for nuclear power development,” Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said in parliament. “We need more electricity production, we need clean electricity and we need a stable energy system.”

Sweden’s individual electricity consumption is very high at approximately 12,000 kilowatt hour per year/per capita on average. Hydroelectric output depends on seasonal precipitation, varying from 79 terawatt hour (TWh) in 2000 to 62 TWh in 2018.

Total capacity was 41.2 gigawatt electrical (GWe) at the end of 2020 and 43.7 GWe at the end of 2021.

Nuclear provides 40% of electricity needs

According to the World Nuclear Association, Sweden’s nuclear power reactors provide about 40% of its electricity needs.

The latest positive vote continues Sweden’s roller coaster ride relationship with nuclear energy.

In 1980, the government decided to phase out nuclear power, however, in June 2010, Parliament voted to repeal this policy.

The country’s 1997 energy policy allowed 10 reactors to operate longer than envisaged by the 1980 phase-out policy, but also resulted in the premature closure of a two-unit plant – 1200 megawatt electricity (MWe). Some 1600 MWe was subsequently added in updates to the remaining 10 reactors.

In 2015 decisions were made to close four older reactors by 2020, removing 2.8 GWe net.

Sweden chooses nuclear reactor to unveil US energy research collaboration

Interestingly, the Swedish government chose a nuclear reactor as the stage for the announcement of a new energy research partnership with the United States.

Sweden’s Minister for Education Mats Persson signed an implementation agreement for energy research cooperation with the US in the Reactor Hall at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

That signing took place in research reactor R1 – Sweden’s first nuclear reactor – which has contributed to the nation’s nuclear research between 1954 and 1970.

“For the Swedish Government, it’s very important to tackle the societal challenges we face using innovative and effective solutions. In the energy area, we need to collaborate with the best partners to identify and develop ways of addressing the growing need for clean and green energy production. This is why I’m very pleased that Sweden is now strengthening its energy research cooperation with the United States,” Minister Persson said.

The implementation agreement is aimed at establishing a framework for the promotion of scientific and technological cooperation between the parties in the field of energy and other related fields.

According to the two parties, these may include fusion energy sciences, high energy physics and nuclear physics.