Irrational Nuclear Fear Puts Sweden In Danger Of Succumbing To Stupidity

Nobody has ever died from Swedish nuclear power. Until recently, nuclear power provided about 40% of this country’s electricity, similar to hydropower. Fossil fuels only generated about 1% of Sweden’s electricity.

But that will turn for the worse.

The Swedish Barsebäck 2 nuclear power plant was closed in May 2005 after only 28 years of operation … [+] previous agreements with the government. It was supposed to be replaced by wood and gas and some wind, but has been replaced by imports of electricity, much of which consists of coal and gas.

Lars Bo Wassini

Sama Bilbao y Léon and John Lindberg from the World Nuclear Association write: “[Starting in 1980] Sweden had shown the world that it was possible to get rid of fossil fuels for electricity generation in less than a decade. Simultaneously with the improvement of Swedish life without harming the environment, one of the cheapest and cleanest electricity systems in the world has been delivered. “

Sweden has been a net exporter of low-carbon electricity to other parts of Europe for almost a decade. Sweden is more advanced than most other countries in its commercial nuclear waste management program and is building two deep geological repositories for nuclear waste in Forsmark.

So, with their nuclear reactors, which are only about the middle of their life and whose entire program is going really well, who in Sweden would want to shut them down completely?

Um … Members of the Swedish coalition government, led by the Swedish Greens, people who get a Pavlovian gag reflex just thinking about nuclear power. They want to close their entire nuclear fleet early and replace the 2 trillion kWh with renewable energies and natural gas.

Their almost complete lack of technical, environmental and operational knowledge of each of these energy sources could be understandable if it weren’t for Sweden. This country has an extremely good understanding of all of these issues, so it must be willful ignorance that we should forgive less for.

And I think, like in Germany, they don’t mind being dependent on Russia. Worse still, replacing nuclear power plants with renewables and natural gas would kill tens of thousands more people and triple their carbon emissions over the next few decades. Since 1980, Nuclear has avoided more than 2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions from Sweden, similar to hydropower.

An early nuclear exit would cause more than 2 billion tons of CO2 emissions, loss of $ 120 billion in taxes, and undermine network reliability in an area of ​​the world that gets very cold.

Think of Texas last week.

The world’s leading climate researcher James Hansen and most of his colleagues have vehemently warned that nuclear expansion is necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

After the shutdown of the Ringhals 1 reactor, a normal Swedish winter disconnected the country’s grid. The southern part of Sweden, which previously had six additional reactors, had to import electricity from coal-fired power plants in Poland and Denmark, as well as from gas-fired power plants in Germany that burn natural gas pipelines from Russia.

Huh? So much for the Greens.

What is bizarre about this major step backwards is that Swedes mostly like nuclear power. 78% of Swedes strongly support nuclear energy, 43% are open to building new nuclear power plants and 35% want to keep the country’s reactors in use for their entire lifespan, a survey by Novus shows. On the other hand, only 11% of those polled are against nuclear power, the lowest in history.

Sweden has a tax that specifically discriminates against nuclear energy – 0.75 ¢ / kWh just because it is nuclear. This is about a third of the total cost of ownership of nuclear energy. The European Commission has examined whether this nuclear tax violates European Union competition law.

In contrast, wind and biomass are heavily subsidized (KPMG). Sweden also has a very high tax on CO2 emissions, around USD 120 / tonne CO2. These measures serve to support renewable energies and damage fossil fuels, but also nuclear power.

Unfortunately, electricity consumption in Sweden has increased. Sweden has one of the world’s highest individual consumption levels – over 13,000 kWh / person / year. As the country replaced fossil fuels with nuclear power plants in the late 1960s, emissions levels in Sweden dropped to half of those in the 1970s (World Bank).

The installation of a large part of the intermittent sources such as wind and sun requires a correspondingly expanded backup capacity. According to the Swedish network operator Svenska Kraftnät, the Swedish Energy Agency Energimyndigheten and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, there is no room for expansion of the current capacity of Swedish hydropower, and if the current hydropower system is used for backup, or load sequence, variability of wind power, would have a devastating impact on the local environment.

In addition, Svenska Kraftnät estimates the need for around 12,000 MW of emergency power from natural gas for the load installation of an additional 30,000 MW of wind power to replace the 9,000 MW nuclear fleet with a generous capacity factor for wind of 30%. They also warn that the country’s infrastructure will not allow installing so much wind and gas anytime soon.

However, the Swedish grid operator can only guarantee electricity from wind sources with a capacity factor of 6%, which requires an even larger amount of installed wind capacity of almost 150,000 MW with the same gas support to ensure the 9,000 MW that would be lost from nuclear. Like most countries, the Swedish nuclear fleet has a capacity factor of 90% (Swedish National Grid, 2014).

The cost of installing 30,000 MW wind power with 12,000 MW gas is approximately $ 45 billion plus another $ 4 billion to operate over 20 years. Continuing the nuclear fleet over the next 20 years will cost about $ 3 billion. I understand Sweden has a budget surplus, but an extra $ 40 billion can be a bit much just to give way to the government’s anti-nuclear sentiment.

Given the Swedish weather, the situation is even worse. The peak electricity demand for the winter in Sweden is 28,200 MW, which can easily be covered by the existing energy mix, especially since nuclear power plants function even better in extreme cold (Swedish National Grid, 2014). With all of Europe peaking at the same time, Sweden’s ability to import electricity in extreme weather conditions is essentially zero.

According to the Swedish network operator, there is no coherent plan on how the loss of 9,000 MW of reliable nuclear power can be replaced with intermittent sources plus gas to ensure electricity supply in very cold weather. And Sweden is getting really cold!

Last week the Texans were shocked that their guides hadn’t really taken care of their bars. I hope the Swedes don’t get the same shock in the future.

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