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EON to Boost Swedish Nuclear Reactor Output Through April

Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- EON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, plans to return idled nuclear reactors in Sweden to service, boosting output from November to April.

The 1,400-megawatt Oskarshamn-3 reactor, the country’s biggest, is scheduled to operate throughout the winter, Roger Strandahl, a company spokesman, said today by phone from Malmoe, Sweden. The 473-megawatt Oskarshamn-1 plant is set to resume output on Nov. 12 after being idle for more than a year, according to the spokesman.

Electricity prices jumped in the past three winters, reaching a peak of 134.80 euros ($172.34) a megawatt-hour on Feb. 21 2010 on the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo, as more than 20 percent of Sweden’s atomic output halted during periods of cold weather and peakload demand, Olav Botnen, senior analyst at Markedskraft AS, said by phone from Arendal, Norway, on Oct. 4.

“We expect higher output this winter as we have drawn lessons from complex reactor upgrades in the past few winters,” Strandahl said. The nation meets half of its electricity demand from atomic plants.

Meanwhile Fortum Oyj, Finland’s biggest utility, which holds a 45.5 percent stake in the Oskarshamn plants and also has a stake in three reactors in Forsmark, expects Swedish utilization rates to rise above 90 percent after 2015, Goran Hult, vice president of research and development, said by phone from Stockholm.

The Forsmark units had a utilization rate of 71.8 percent in 2010, compared with 56 percent for Oskarshamn, and 91 percent for Fortum’s Loviisa reactors in Finland.

“We’ve pooled our rich nuclear competence and know-how from Finland and tried to apply it to operations in Sweden,” Hult said. “The worst is definitely behind us when it comes to low output rates from Swedish nuclear reactors.”

Only the 473-megawatt Oskarshamn-1 reactor may face a “comparatively low” operating rate in the future, due to its turbine features, he said, without elaborating.

Regulator Verdict

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has yet to decide whether to extend the operating license for the 638-megawatt Oskarshamn-2 reactor from January through May, Jan Hanberg, section head at the regulator, said by phone from Stockholm on Nov. 1. The extension is at risk after the company failed to complete a safety upgrade on time. Fortum company says output through April will be higher than in past winters, since it expects the watchdog to give approval.

Vattenfall AB, Sweden’s biggest utility, expects to boost output at its Forsmark and Ringhals reactors from November through March, Mats Ladeborn, director of nuclear development, said by phone from Stockholm on Oct. 23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Torsten Fagerholm in Helsinki at tfagerholm@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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