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Sweden agrees to continue with nuclear power

Staff writer |
Sweden's left-wing government struck a deal with the opposition to continue nuclear power for the foreseeable future, backtracking on its pledge to phase out atomic energy.

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The government coalition, made up of the Social Democrats and the Greens, had agreed in October 2014 to freeze nuclear energy development, while the opposition has been in favour of building new reactors. The deal is aimed at securing long-term energy supplies to households and industry, the government said.

Sweden has for years struggled to find viable alternative energy sources to replace its nuclear power, with renewable energies not yet able to fully meet the country's needs.

"Sweden shall have a robust electricity system with a high level of secure supply, low environmental impact and energy at competitive prices," the agreement said.

This agreement paves the way for the construction of new reactors to replace the country's ageing ones at the end of their lifespans.

"We have, in this way, ensured that Sweden will have nuclear power for the foreseeable future," a spokesman for the conservative Moderate Party, Lars Hjalmered, told reporters.

Sweden has already shut down three of its reactors. It currently has nine functional reactors at three nuclear power plants, which generated 38 per cent of the electricity used in the country in 2014.

The reactors were opened in the 1970s and 1980s. Most of them have lifespans of around 40 years and are in need of modernisation.

One ageing reactor at the Oskarshamn plant in southeastern Sweden is due to be decommissioned between 2017 and 2019. Two other reactors, at the Ringhals plant in southwestern Sweden, are due to be decommissioned in 2018 and 2020.

”We welcome that a broad parliamentary agreement on the future direction of Swedish energy policy has been reached, giving us the predictability we need. The abolishment of the nuclear capacity tax is an important precondition for us to be able to consider the investments needed to secure the long-term operation of our nuclear reactors from the 1980s," said Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall, a 100 percent owned by the Swedish state and is one of Europe's largest generators of electricity.

“Today’s agreement is also a positive signal to the 4,000 employees in our nuclear business”, Hall continues.

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