New Options for Nuclear Power in Europe

The Swedish government published last week a roadmap for the construction of new nuclear power reactors – two by 2035, and another eight by 2045– with projected government credit guarantees of 400 billion crowns (€35 billion). The roadmap is intended to enter into legal force by January 1, 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch said: “Sweden is laying the foundations to become a leading nuclear power nation again and a power factor for the green transition in the West.” Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson noted for her part that the state would assume a large financial role in the expansion. “The last few years have shown how expensive it is not to build nuclear power.”

In Belgium as well, the governing coalition has decided to reverse the nuclear phase-out policy of its predecessors. Otherwise, the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactor units would have been the last of a total of six units to be shut down in 2025. Although they will be taken off the grid for a good year for modernization, they are set to run for a total of ten more years from November 2026 on. Without the extension, studies have shown that there would have been an acute supply shortfall.

And Switzerland, as we reported last week, will extend the life of its four nuclear plants, that now provide some 40% of the electricity produced (cf. SAS 46/23).

Such rational arguments have not convinced the green ideologues in the German government. Thus, Economy Minister Robert Habeck rejected outright an offer by nuclear power operator PreussenElektra to resume operating the Isar-2 plant, which was among the last three plants finally shut down on April 15. The operator has offered to keep its plant operational at a price of 60 euros per MWh, which was said to be far below the current market value of electricity of between 100 and 130 euros per Mwh. Restarting the Isar-2 facility would take about a year to train staff, deal with paperwork and purchase new fuel.

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