Map of Sweden

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Electricity generation in Sweden

Energy mix

"More than a third of Sweden’s energy supply depends on imports. Domestic energy production is largely limited to electricity generation using nuclear energy and renewable sources (almost exclusively hydro). Energy imports are mainly oil from Denmark, Norway and Russia, with some small quantities of hard coal imports. Industry exhibits a relatively high share of final energy consumption compared to other EU Member States. Given the relatively low presence of fossil fuels in the energy mix, Sweden has low CO2 emissions and CO2 intensity factor. Low carbon energy is a high priority in government policy."
(source: http://ec.europa.eu/energy 2007)

Developments in the nuclear sector

2010, June: New reactors replacing old ones

"New reactors will be permitted in Sweden from next year as its moratorium on nuclear power transforms into a new set of restrictions.

Overturning the decision of a referendum 30 years ago, yesterday's Riksdag vote will allow Swedish firms to replace the existing ten reactors that provide over 40% of the country's electricity.

The 1980 decision offered the public three different ways to end nuclear power but none to allow it to continue normally. In the intervening years Swedish utilities have concentrated on maintaining and uprating the ten reactors at Forsmark, Oskarshamn and Ringhals, adding 1050 MWe in extra generating capacity. Two reactors at Barsebäck were shut down early because of political pressure from neighbouring Denmark leading to a net loss of only about 200 MWe.

The bill passed yesterday will come into effect on 1 January 2011, said a Riksdag statement that noted the Business and Industry Committee's determination that new nuclear power would recieve no subsidy.

Despite delivering a new era for Swedish nuclear, the new rules still contain arbitrary restrictions. For example, new reactors are only permitted at the existing three power plants and a new reactor may only begin operation as an older one is permanently shut down. None of the current fleet should need replacement before the 2030s.

This framework would limit the role nuclear power can play to the traditional position it already holds by encouraging utilities to build only the largest designs of 1600-1800 MWe that will be available in coming years. It would rule out the future use of small or modular nuclear systems in remote regions or for industrial cogeneration, while no early Generation-IV reactors would be likely to boast large enough generating capacities.

However, the longevity of the legislation in questionable. It was approved by only 174 to 172 and opposition and Green politicians have already pledged to try to re-instate old laws if and when they gain power."

(Source: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org)

2010, Jan 15: Work on new nuclear in Sweden ongoing

"New nuclear is on the Swedish agenda with moves towards revised legislation and regulatory support for new build applications. Hans Blix told a seminar he was 'absolutely convinced' of the need for new reactors.

A meeting in Stockholm on 21 January, organised by the power utility research organisation, Elforsk, heard from a range of players in the new environment for Swedish atomic energy.

Regulatory law expert Ingvar Persson has been tasked with reviewing nuclear legislation, and in particular, suggesting new language to permit the construction of new reactors - banned since a 1980 referendum. He is also reviewing the status of nuclear liability in Sweden, with the likely result of unlimited liability for plant owners in the event of an accident. The government is expected to propose its legal changes on 22 March with the aim of bringing the new legislation into force by 1 July.

Parallel work is underway at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, SSM), which this month began working on a proposal for a licensing process for new reactors. SSM head Fredrik Hassel said the system could be ready for government approval by February 2011 with spring 2013 as the earliest possible time to begin reviewing an application. He warned that this required financial investment from the government as well as the recruitment of about 60 more staff.

The moves come after last year's turnaround on nuclear policy in the name of climate change. 'The climate issue is now in focus,' wrote the coalition government in February 2009, 'and nuclear power will thus remain an important part of Swedish electricity production for the forseeable future.' That policy statement, after concessions from the Centre Party, heralded the beginning of the end of phase-out conditions."

(source: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org)

2009, Oct 30: Nuclear new-build in Sweden?

"Swedish utility Vattenfall has launched a joint venture project with some of the country's leading industrial companies to secure future power supplies, possibly through the construction of new nuclear power reactors.

State-owned Vattenfall has signed a letter of intent regarding joint energy production with Industrikraft i Sverige AB - a newly formed company owned equally by mining and smelting company Boliden, Eka Chemicals (part of Akzo Nobel), and paper and pulp companies Holmen, Stora Enso and SCA Forest Products.

In a statement, Vattenfall said, "At the heart of the collaboration is the shared view that there will be a shortage in baseload power once Sweden's nuclear plants are decommissioned. These will have to be replaced with new baseload power that is carbon-free."

The agreement between Vattenfall and Industrikraft outlines a range of options for possible joint venture development areas, which includes renewable energy sources and nuclear power.

Magnus Hall, chairman of Industrikraft, said: "We are focused on setting up and taking part in concrete projects for new baseload power. Naturally, we see nuclear power as one alternative, but we will also be studying other options."

"As far as Vattenfall is concerned, we are extremely pleased to be continuing our close collaboration with representatives of Swedish industry and working together on the energy solutions of the future, including renewable energy sources," commented Hans von Uthmann, senior executive vice president of Vattenfall AB and head of Vattenfall Nordic."
(source: world-nuclear-news.org)

2009, June: Site for disposal for used nuclear fuel in Sweden announced

"The world's first permanent disposal site for used nuclear fuel will be at Forsmark, Sweden's SKB announced today.
The decision was announced by SKB President, Claes Thegerström today after a board meeting yesterday. Forsmark, in the municipality of Östhammar, was selected in preference to Laxemar in the Oskarshamn municipality after a process of investigation and engagement that has lasted since 2002.

Site works towards the underground facility could begin in 2013, with full construction starting in 2015 and operation in 2023. This single facility, using only 15 hectares above ground, would hold all of the high-level radioactive waste from the nuclear power reactors that provide about 45% of Sweden's electricity. SKB will apply to nuclear safety regulators for permission to build in around one year's time.

The repository is designed to isolate the wastes for the 100,000 years it will take until their levels of radiation return to the original low levels of natural uranium. Used nuclear fuel assemblies are to be packed in cast iron baskets within thick copper canisters and packed in clay almost 500 metres below gound in a continguous section of igneous rock. At that level, groundwater movement is so slow that the wastes could never affect life at the surface. The method, known as KBS-3, was selected in 1983.

The competition to host the site was hard fought, with both communities taking keen interest - both municipalities already have nuclear facilities. Forsmark already hosts a nuclear power plant and the final repository for short-lived radioactive waste, but its selection for this facility comes as something of a surprise. The used fuel for disposition at the CLAB interim store is in the Oskarshamn municipality near Laxemar, as will be the encapsulation plant. Also in that region is the Äspö hard rock laboratory where much of the practical work to demonstrate the disposal method has taken place."

(source: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org)

The choice of site is crirticised heavily by environmental organizations:

"Even though the industry's nuclear waste company has a lot of power, there are soaring doubts about the choice of method. The KBS-method relies on artificial barriers of copper and clay for long term safety. New copper corrosion processes have recently been discovered that may very negatively affect the method. In fact, the choice of a site in relatively dry rock near Forsmark nuclear power station may be due to this issue. The industry does not accept that there are corrosion problem, but a dry site may be less problematic for corrosion, just in case. There will be surely be developments in the coming years that may bring surprises."
(source: Johan Swahn, distributed by no-nukes-eur mailing list)

2009: Overturn of decision to phase out nuclear power

On Feb. 5th, 2009 the Swedish government announced that it wanted to overturn its nearly 30-year-old decision to phase out nuclear power and perhaps replace the 10 NPPs still in operation with new ones. A decision of the parliament is still necessary to make the overturn legal.
The new reactors shall help combat climate change and secure Sweden's energy supply.
In a referendum in the 1980ies the Swedes voted to phase out nuclear power until 2010.
(source: http://news.bbc.co.uk)
But merly two of 12 reactors have been closed by that time: In 1997 the phase-out had to be delayed for three decades by simply not replacing the old reactors - this step was necessary because not enough alternative energy resources were available. At present, about the half of Sweden's electricity is generated by NPPs. (source: guardian.co.uk).
The lifetime of the current plants will probably be extended into the 2030, after that the replacement of the old plants by new ones is possible. (source: nuclear monitor No. 683)

2005: Phase-out becomes more unlikely

In 2005 Sweden's decades-long commitment to phasing out nuclear power is looking ever less likely to be carried through. Scandinavian media report that the four-party centre-right opposition alliance is now prepared to keep all but one of Sweden's existing nuclear power plants running. Meanwhile, the centre-left Social Democrat (SDP) government has reportedly approved a 1,65 billion Euro modernisation programme to increase generating capacity at seven of Sweden's ten remaining reactors.

Barsebäck was shutdown in 2005.


In 2004 about half of the electricity in Sweden was generated with nuclear power.


In June 2002, the Parliament in Stockholm agreed the government plans to gradually stop using atomic energy in favour of renewable energies, with 174 for and 86 dissenting votes and 57 abstentions. In the draft an imitation of the German model is suggested, however without fixed time frameworks.

1997: Act on the phase-out-of nuclear power

The " Act on the phase-out of nuclear power" was approved in Parliament in December 1997. The Act authorizes the Government to decide that the right to use a nuclear power reactor for energy production shall expire as a consequence of the conversion of the energy system.
Based on this new act, the Government decided in February 1998 that Barsebäck Kraft AB is not allowed to continue the operation of Barsebäck 1 after 30 June 1998. In March, Sydkraft AB the owner of Barsebäck NPP appealed this decision to the supreme administrative court of Sweden, and in May was granted an inhibition of the decision until the legal procedure has been completed.

1993 - 1996: Oskarshamn 1 out of operation

OKG announced in mid 1993 that the 21 year old unit Oskarshamn 1 would remain out of operation for some years. A programme including modernization of the plant and a thorough examination of the reactor pressure vessel and primary piping was undertaken. Oskarshamn 1 was brought back into operation in the beginning of 1996.

1992: Incident at Barsebäck 2

On 28 July 1992, an incident at Barsebäck 2 showed after an in-depth analysis that there were weaknesses in the emergency core cooling systems in the five oldest BWRs. As a result, the five units were shut down in mid September and the systems were modified over a period of about five months.

1985 - 1990: Increases in thermal power

Between 1985 and 1990 the owners were granted permission by the Government to increase the licensed thermal power levels of the nuclear power units by 6-10 percent.

1980: Advisory referendum on the phase-out of nuclear power

A week after the TMI-accident in Harrisburg, on 28 March 1979, all the parties in Parliament agreed on an advisory referendum about the future of nuclear power in Sweden.

The advisory referendum was held in March 1980. The referendum had three different ballots.
The result was a majority (58%) for line 1 and 2 saying that: "Nuclear power will be phased out at the pace possible with regard to the need for electric power in the maintaining of employment and welfare. To reduce the dependency on oil and waiting for renewable energy sources, only the 12 present reactors in operation or under construction will be used. No further nuclear power expansion shall take place. Safety considerations will be decisive for the order in which to phase out the reactors". A large minority (38,7%) voted for an option (line 3) saying no to further expansion of nuclear power and that phase-out of the present six reactors in operation should be accomplished within 10 years.

Directly after the referendum the Government issued a bill saying that, according to the referendum, units 11 and 12 could be completed and taken into operation. A maximum of 12 reactors could be used during their technical life, which in the bill was assumed to be 25 years. No further expansion of nuclear power may be undertaken and safety aspects will be decisive for the order in which the units will be taken out of operation.

1979: Measures for mitigation of severe accident

After the TMI accident in 1979 (USA), measures for mitigation of severe accident consequences were proposed by a state commission and decided by the Government. These measures included accident management procedures, and new systems for diversified containment cooling and for filtered containment venting. These systems were designed to reduce the release of fission products in a core melt accident to below 0.1% (excl. noble gases) of the core inventory of a 1800 MW(th) reactor. The new systems were completed at Barsebäck in 1985, and at the other sites in 1988.

1970s: Conditional Act on reactors not yet in operation

The Swedish Parliament has debated and decided on issues about the use of nuclear energy in Sweden several times since the beginning of the 1970´s.
In 1976 the Government issued a bill concerning the reactors not yet in operation (the "Conditional Act"). Based on the bill, Parliament decided that a permit for NPP operation could be issued only if the owner presents an agreement on reprocessing of the spent fuel, and a plan for safe final storage of the high radioactive waste. Alternatively safe final direct disposal of the spent fuel could be accepted.
As a result of the "Conditional Act" the nuclear industry started a joint project on nuclear fuel safety (KBS) and issued a first safety report (KBS-1) in November 1977 on final repository safety.

1965 - 1970: Construction of first commercial reactors

In 1965 OKG, a power company which had just been formed by private industrial companies, ordered from ASEA (now ABB Atom) a commercial nuclear power reactor based on a boiling water reactor (BWR) concept of Swedish design. The 440 MW unit Oskarshamn 1 started commercial operation in 1972. Oskarshamn-1 was the first light water reactor in the western world built without a licence from US vendors. There are now three nuclear units (all BWRs) in operation at the Oskarshamn site.

In 1968 Vattenfall ordered Ringhals 1, a 750 MW BWR, from ASEA and Ringhals 2, a 800 MW pressurized water reactor (PWR), from Westinghouse. Later Vattenfall ordered two more Westinghouse PWRs to be built at Ringhals.

In 1970 Sydkraft, the second largest power utility in Sweden, started construction of two ASEA BWRs at Barsebäck. Some years later Vattenfall, together with a group of non state-owned utilities, started the construction of a new nuclear power plant at Forsmark. There are now three BWRs in operation at Forsmark.

1958 - 1963: First small reactors

In 1958 AB Atomenergi moved most of its research activities to a newly established national state-owned laboratory, Studsvik (located at the east coast 100 km south of Stockholm). A material testing reactor R2 started operation in 1960 and is still in use.

Vattenfall (the State Power Board) and AB Atomenergi decided in 1957 to build a small heavy water reactor for the production of heat and electricity. The reactor, named Agesta, was situated in a rock cavern, and started production in 1964 at a power level of 105 MW (th). It was used mainly for heating of a suburb of Stockholm. The Agesta reactor was decommissioned in 1974.

In 1963 construction of a a heavy water power reactor started at Marviken on the east coast about 40 km south of Studsvik. In 1970 it became clear that the Swedish reactor concept could not compete commercially with the light water reactor concept and the project was abandoned.

1947: First interest in nuclear

The Swedish government showed first interest in nuclear energy in 1947, when AB Atomenergi was constituted as a governmental research organization. Until 1955 the nuclear energy programme was oriented towards basic research concentrated on a small natural uranium/heavy water reactor R1, located in a rock shelter at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. This reactor went critical for the first time in July 1954.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
AgestaAgestaPHWR 105195719641974
BarsebaeckBarsebaeck-1BWR 600197119751999
Barsebaeck-2BWR 600197319772005
ForsmarkForsmark-1BWR 97019731980
Forsmark-2BWR 97019751981
Forsmark-3BWR 110019791985
OskarshamnCLABInterim Storage for Spent Fuel1985
Oskarshamn-2BWR 60019691974
RinghalsRinghals-1BWR 80019691974
Ringhals-2PWR 90019701974
Ringhals-3PWR 90019711981
Ringhals-4PWR 90019731982
SFRSFRFinal Repository for LMLW1988
StudsvikStudsvikRR /University
Studsvik Waste FacilitiesWaste Facilities
VästerasVästerasNuclear Fuel Factory1969