Swedish reactors face increased waste fees

03 December 2015

The Swedish nuclear regulator has recommended that the operators of four reactors that will shut earlier than planned - Oskarshamn units 1 and 2 and Ringhals 1 and 2 - should pay higher waste fees to ensure the country's nuclear waste fund is sufficient.

In a 1 December letter to the government, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, or SSM) said decisions by OKG and Ringhals AB earlier this year to close the units early has "affected the financing of future nuclear decommissioning".

Vattenfall - owner of a 70.4% stake in the Ringhals plant - announced earlier this year that it intended to bring forward the closure of the two units to 2018-2020 instead of 2025 as previously planned, due to declining profitability and increased costs. In October it confirmed that Ringhals 2 is to be decommissioned in 2019 and Ringhals 1 in 2020.

Also in October, OKG announced that Oskarshamn unit 1 would close between 2017 and 2019 and while unit 2 would not be restarted and will be decommissioned.

Annika Åström, head of SSM's financial control unit, said: "Changes in the operating times that the licensees have decided represent significant changes in the assumptions that formed the basis for the government's decision on fees for 2015-2017."

Accordingly, SSM is proposing that the fee paid by OKG is increased from the current 4.1 öre (0.48 US cents) to 6.7 öre (0.78 US cents) per kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity generated. It also suggests the fee paid by Ringhals AB is raised from 4.2 öre (0.49 US cents) to 5.5 öre (0.64 US cents) per kWh.

The regulator said the revised figures had been determined simply by spreading the "remaining financing requirement" over the future expected electricity production. It noted that the contribution rate is usually decided by the government every three years.

In December 2014, the Swedish government backed SSM's recommendation for an almost doubling of the fees paid by utilities into the country's nuclear waste fund over the 2015-2017 period.

SSM assesses the amount Sweden's nuclear generators pay into the fund every three years. It bases its assessment partly on estimates from the Swedish spent fuel management company Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB).

SKB is a utility-owned organization with the responsibility to manage Sweden's radioactive waste. Anyone with a permit to own or operate a nuclear facility that generates radioactive waste must pay a waste fee. Fees also apply to research and development activities. As well as dealing with wastes, the fees will also be used for decommissioning facilities.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News