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Sweden Doubles Down on Nuclear Energy with Parliamentary Approval

The Parliament of Sweden has approved a new energy bill paving the way for the construction of additional nuclear reactors beyond the 10 originally approved to boost energy security and reduce carbon emissions, Reuters reports. Sweden’s current fleet of six nuclear reactors is all that remains from 12 reactors after a 1980 referendum committed to exiting nuclear energy entirely. 

A parliamentary statement said the additional nuclear reactors were a response to “expected greater demand for electricity in combination with the need to phase out fossil fuels”. 

The right-wing government of Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is targeting 2035 for the completion of two new conventional nuclear reactors. Beyond that, the government is targeting 10 new reactors in operation in total by 2045, when they expect a doubling of electricity demand. The parliamentary bill was passed on the same day as an outage at the Ringhal 4 nuclear reactor led to a huge surge in electricity prices amid a cold weather spell. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an energy-market-disrupting series of Western sanctions, nuclear power has regained much support in Europe as a critical aspect of reaching net-zero by 2050. 

Earlier this month, Switzerland said it was planning to keep its nuclear power plants operational for longer, despite a 2017 referendum that called for a nuclear phase-out. Switzerland’s four nuclear reactors generate up to 40% of the country’s electricity. In the United States, the first new nuclear reactor in seven years was put into operation in July this year, hailed as a climate positive. The Unit-3 reactor in Georgia produces enough electricity to power half a million homes and businesses, and will be able to sustain those operations for up to eight decades. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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