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Sweden Eyes Nuclear Power Buildout For Low-Carbon Energy Security

Sweden will build two new nuclear reactors by 2035 in a hedge on low-carbon energy security, with 10 new reactors hoped for by 2045. 

On Thursday, the Swedish government took definitive sides in Europe’s polarized take on nuclear energy and its role in the clean energy transition, with energy security dealing the final blow to nuclear energy opponents. 

The country is expecting a surge in demand for power from its industrial and transport sectors, in the form of a double of demand by 2045, and Energy Minister Ebba Busch has called the move “decisive for the green transition, for Swedish jobs and at the heart for the welfare of our citizens”, Reuters reported. 

Some 40% of Sweden’s electricity comes from nuclear power. 

The Swedish government moved to phase out nuclear power completely in 1980, but that decision was reversed by Parliament in 2010. Five years later, four aging reactors were shut down. Six of 12 reactors remain in operation today. 

Earlier this year, Sweden tweaked its renewable energy policy, which had called for 100% renewable electricity by 2040, changing the terminology to “100% fossil-free” electricity, paving the way for the construction of more nuclear power plants. The first two reactors the government hopes to see built by 2035 will be conventional reactors, according to Reuters, while subsequent reactors may be a combination of small modular reactors (SMRs). Financing could get in the way of Sweden’s nuclear energy ambitions, with the government vowing to share the cost of the build-out. According to Swedish officials cited by Reuters, Germany’s Uniper is among those interested in the projects, but any final movement on this will require financial guarantees and greater incentives from the government. 

While Europe remains divided over the inclusion of nuclear power in the bloc’s future energy mix, the European Commission in 2022 defined both nuclear power and natural gas as climate-friendly energy sources. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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