Nuclear power Barsebaeck to be closed in 2005
The Swedish Social Democratic government has agreed with two political parties in the Swedish parliament, the Center Party and the Leftist Party, to close down the Barsebaeck unit 2 in 2005. Unit 1 - its 600 MWe twin reactor - was decommissioned in 1999 after heavy pressure from the Danish government.
The agreement was announced at a press conference in Stockholm on Monday 4th of October by Leif Pagrotsky, the Swedish Minister for Industry and Trade, after the government's special arbitrator, Bo Bylund, had given up on his negotiations with the nuclear industry on a voluntary plan for phasing out the Swedish NPPs. The Minister stated that Barsebaeck would not be closed because of old age or because it was not technically up to standard, but because it was located in the wrong place. The nuclear plant is situated only 20 km from the centre of the Danish capital Copenhagen. He also said that preparations for the decommissioning of the plant would start immediately.
After the decommissioning of Barsebaeck 2 the next step will be to evaluate Sweden's oldest reactors with respect to the possibility of shutting them down. This could happen in a couple of years from now.
The same day the Minister made his announcement, the special arbitrator issued a report, concluding that Sweden's dependency on nuclear energy would not be desirable in the long run, but that a conversion to a long-term sustainable energy system would require a lot of time. Hence, it would be crucial that the conversion should have an early and emphatic start, followed by a successive and balanced phasing out of nuclear power. Furthermore, the utilities' liability to pay damages should be increased.
Simultaneously, the Social Democrats, the Centre Party and the Leftist Party issued a strategy paper for the phasing out of Swedish nuclear power, picking up on most of the points in the arbitrator's report. In this paper, they adhere to the fact that their "generation must take responsibility for future generations. That implies that we have to carry through a conversion of the energy system and at the same time making a solid foundation for a continued satisfactory development of employment and welfare".
Hence, they stated their ambition to base the whole energy supply on renewables, however also emphasizing that implementation of renewable energy in Sweden will cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. According to the strategy paper wind power, bio-fuelled combined power and heating, solar energy and hydropower will be promoted in the future by virtue of an elaborated electricity certificate system. Natural gas will be introduced in a transitional phase and a high priority will be put on the improvement of energy efficiency.
Considering that nuclear power in Sweden has gained a lot of popular support in recent years, the government's decision came as a surprise to many people and the move can only be described as bold. The nation-wide Swedish newspapers - most of them pro-nuclear - came down hard on the government, one newspaper even describing the decision as a "meltdown".
In contrast, the news on Barsebäck was received with joy in Denmark. For almost two decades green NGOs and political parties have campaigned in order to motivate the Swedish government for decommissioning the Barsebaeck NPP. Shifting Danish governments have backed up this position and for a long time it has been tantamount to political suicide for a Danish politician to speak out in favour of the plant or even in favour of nuclear power anywhere in the world.
Although the conviction is that this is "the real thing", satisfaction in Denmark has been mixed with caution considering that the Swedish government had announced several times in the past that it would decommission Barsebaeck and each time failed to make good on its promises. According to an "irrevocable" Swedish government decision in March 1988, a nuclear reactor was supposed to be decommissioned in 1995 and another one in 1996 at Barsebaeck and Ringhals respectively, but the decision was set aside three years later. In February 1998 the Swedish government made a formal decision to decommission Barsebaeck 1 no later than July 1st 1998 and Barsebaeck 2 no later than 2001 as part of the phasing out of nuclear power. Barsebaeck 1 was shut down November 30th 1999, but in May 2001 the Danish government accepted a proposal from the Swedish government that the decommissioning of Barsebaeck 2 could be postponed until 2003 if the energy production that was lost if the reactor was shut down had not been compensated.
"Here in Denmark we congratulate the Swedish government and its partners on their decision not only to close down the Barsebaeck NPP, but also to state their ambition of phasing out nuclear power in Sweden and replace it with renewables in the long-term perspective", says Kim Ejlertsen, head of NOAH - FoE Denmark's secretariat in Copenhagen. "My advice to the Swedish government would be to stand firm and get this decision formalized as quickly as possible".
"With respect to nuclear issues, Barsebaeck will no longer be the focal point of the Danish environmental movement", says Niels Henrik Hooge, spokesperson of Barsebäcksoffensiv, a loose network of some of the biggest green NGOs in Denmark. "Sweden's decision to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewables proves once again that all the talk about a renaissance of nuclear power is pure nonsense. Hopefully, we can now move on and direct more of our attention to the Euratom Treaty and its distortion of EU's free electricity market. For a country that does not have a nuclear power program, our government has a very weak track record on standing up for the Danish energy sector that is world leading in the field of renewables. Denmark should be fighting against the European nuclear industry and trying to get the Euratom Treaty abolished".
Bo Bylund's phasing out plan:
Pursuant to the Act on Nuclear Decommissioning from 1997, the owners and the licensee have a right to be compensated if a reactor is phased out by a government decision before 40 years of commercial operation. The special arbitrator's plan is designed to burden the state finances as little as possible:
2005 Barsebäck 2 is closed.
2010-2015 Oskarshamn 1 is closed.
2016-2025 Oskarshamn 2, Ringhals 1, Ringhals 2 and Forsmark 1 are closed with three-year intervals.
2028-2040 Ringhals 3, Forsmark 2, Ringhals 4, Oskarshamn 3 and Forsmark 3 are closed. How quickly depends on the technological development.
They own the Swedish NPPs:
The Finnish utility Fortum owns 25,5 per cent of Forsmark and 45,5 per cent of Oskarshamn.
The government-controlled utility Vattenfall owns 75 per cent of Ringhals-Barsebäck and 66 per cent of Forsmark, i.e. it controls 8 of the 11 Swedish nuclear power reactors.
The utility Sydkraft that is owned by the German E.ON. Group (55 per cent) and the Norwegian utility Statkraft (45 per cent) owns 25 per cent of Ringhals-Barsebäck, 54,5 per cent of Oskarshamn and 8,5 per cent of Forsmark.
In the final negotiations with the government's special arbitrator, the utilities were dissatisfied with the production quotas he was willing to give to them. They even rejected the idea of closing down Oskarshamn 1 - Sweden's oldest reactor - in 2010. Another stumbling block is said to be the disagreements over the amount of money paid out in compensation for the decommissioning of the Barsebaeck NPP.
With the decommissioning of Barsebaeck, the utility Sydkraft's share of the Ringhals group, which is the owner of Barsebaeck, will now increase from a fourth to a third. The present majority owner, Vattenfall, will give up 5-6 per cent of its share of the 4 Ringhals reactors.
The report of the special arbitrator can be found (in Swedish language) here
The strategy paper of the Swedish Social Democrats, the Center Party and the Leftist Party can be found (in Swedish language) here
Further information on the Barsebaeck NPP can be found (in English language) here
For further information, please contact:
NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark - Niels Henrik Hooge, tel. +45 46 35 38 79 and +45 21 83 79 94, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org