Sweden plans new nuclear reactors by 2035, will share costs

By Simon Johnson

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s government said it aimed to build the equivalent of two new conventional nuclear reactors by 2035 on Thursday to meet surging demand for clean power from industry and transport and was prepared to take on some of the costs.

By 2045 the government wants to have the equivalent of 10 new reactors, some of which are likely to be small modular reactors (SMRs), smaller than conventional reactors.

Energy Minister Ebba Busch said the government was planning a “massive build out” of new nuclear power by 2045.

“It’s decisive for the green transition, for Swedish jobs and at heart for the welfare of our citizens,” she told reporters.

Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, and Britain are looking at expanding nuclear power as societies transition to a fossil-fuel free future.

But critics have pointed to the huge costs and the private sector’s reluctance to invest without guarantees or other incentives – like Britain’s deal with French nuclear developer EDF for its new Hinkley Point C plant which gave price guarantees.

Sweden’s government has already offered 400 billion crowns ($37.71 billion) of loan guarantees to support new nuclear power, which it says is needed to power developments like fossil-fuel free steel production, but said it was now willing to shoulder more of the burden.

“Guarantees are very important, but that won’t be enough,” Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said. “For this type of infrastructure it is going to require the state to take part and share the risk.”

The government said it had not yet decided what kind of funding model it would adopt, but stressed that the private sector was ready to invest in building new plants given the right circumstances. Energy Minister Busch said state-owned Vattenfall, Finland’s Fortum and Germany’s Uniper were among those who had expressed interest.

Sweden voted to get rid of nuclear power in 1980, and has only six of an original 12 reactors still in production.

The current right wing government wants to replace old reactors and expand the fleet to drive the electrification of industry and transport.

The government has forecast that electricity demand will rise to around 300 Twh by 2045 as a result of the transition to a fossil-free society, up from around 140 Twh currently.

($1 = 10.6072 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Elaine Hardcastle)