Vattenfall Warns Sweden Faces Forced Exit From Nuclear Power
(Bloomberg) -- Vattenfall AB will have to halt four of its five reactors in Sweden by 2025 due to uncertainty over how the government plans to deal with the storage of used nuclear fuel, the state-owned utility warned on Tuesday.
The Swedish government last week delayed a decision on a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel and instead approved an expansion of a temporary site. The move has created uncertainty over whether storage will be available in time to secure the operation of the country’s reactors, Vattenfall said in a statement.
Sweden’s nuclear stations supply about a third of the nation’s power. The country, which counts on renewables for a large part of its power production, will need nuclear as well as emission cuts from its heavy industry and transport to reach its net-zero goal by 2045. Swedish government officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The country’s intermediate storage site for used nuclear fuel is set to fill up by the end of 2023. Sweden doesn’t have the spare power capacity to replace so much lost output in such a short time, Vattenfall said last week.
The possibility of restarting four reactors at the Ringhals and Forsmark nuclear plants after maintenance in 2024 and 2025 is “not foreseeable at the moment,” Vattenfall said Tueday in a filing to market operator Nord Pool AS. “The government decision has created uncertainties in the legal procedure for obtaining final decisions on storage of nuclear fuel.”
Since October last year, a proposal for expansion of the temporary site and construction of a final repository has been awaiting the go-ahead after gaining approval in lower courts. According to the government, more time is needed for such a crucial decision and the only way to secure operation of the reactors is to approve the intermediary site expansion until the rest of the application is resolved.
The nuclear industry together with Sweden’s energy and radiation authorities are concerned that the new legal process will not be able to clear the courts before the temporary site is full.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.