Back in 1980, politicians in Sweden offered the country’s voters a referendum on nuclear power that offered three options for implementing a gradual phase out of the technology, but no options on the ballot called for maintaining or expanding use. After nearly thirty years in which only two smallish plants at Barseback were shut down, it looks like the government is finally going to admit that it has not found a viable alternative that combines the low marginal cost, high reliability, and clean operation of nuclear fission.
It was not for lack of trying. Sweden has large hydro resources that are well exploited, a hugh forest products industry that converts its waste into fuel, and massive wind farm installations along its coastlines. It apparently has enough technologists who can do math to realize that any investment in solar for a country that has days that last a couple of hours in the winter would be like burning money for fuel.
I am not sure when the final vote will be taken, but it appears likely that Sweden will overturn its ban and begin planning a new generation of nuclear power plants in earnest.
I wonder how long it is going to be before the people who thought that shutting down Barseback was a dumb idea succeed in their efforts to quickly add 1200 MW of clean, reliable electrical generating capacity back to the grid while the planning process for new nuclear plants gets started.
Additional reading on this issue
- NEI Nuclear Notes –A Ban Falls: Sweden Refocuses on Nuclear Energy
- Takepart Social Action Network – Sweden Mulls Lifting Nuclear Ban
- Eideard – Sweden aims to lift nuclear ban
- Wall Street Journal – Sweden Set to Overturn Ban on Nuclear Power
- David Walters on Daily Kos – Sweden Dumps Nuclear “Phase Out”!!!