Vattenfall Postpones New Swedish Nuclear Reactors Beyond 2030

Vattenfall AB, the Nordic region’s biggest utility, delayed the start of any new Swedish nuclear reactors by at least five years after choosing to extend the lifespan of old atomic plants.

“Vattenfall today sees no need for building new nuclear reactors before 2030, since forecasts fail to indicate growing electricity use, while also pointing to rising power output, including from wind turbines,” Torbjoern Wahlborg, head of Vattenfall’s nuclear power business division, said today by e-mail from Stockholm.

The company, which generates electricity in the Nordic area by running water through turbines and by splitting atoms, said yesterday it will invest 16 billion Swedish kronor ($2.4 billion) through 2017 to extend the technical lifespan of its Forsmark and Ringhals reactors by as much as 10 years, in the most extensive modernization program in Swedish history.

As part of a drive to increase energy security and stem global warming, the Swedish parliament on June 17, 2010, decided to overturn a ban on building new nuclear reactors, in force since 1980. Vattenfall on July 31 submitted an application to the country’s Radiation Safety Authority for building an unspecified number of new stations, as early as 2025, replacing its seven reactors, which started operating from 1975 to 1985.

“Our analysis is ongoing, and a possible investment decision for new reactors cannot be made until eight or 10 years from now,” Walhborg said. Sweden obtains half of its power output from 10 nuclear reactors.

According to the present plan, Vattenfall will operate its Ringhals-1 and Ringhals-2 reactors for 50 years each, until 2025 and 2026, respectively. Its other units, including Ringhals-3, Ringhals-4, and three Forsmark plants may run for as long as 60 years, until 2040 and beyond, according to Vattenfall.

The Forsmark units are co-owned with Fortum Oyj, Finland’s biggest utility, and EON SE. The Ringhals reactors are jointly owned with EON, Germany’s largest power producer.

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