Swedish politicians call for rethink on nuclear phaseout

14 January 2008

Sweden's Liberal Party, a member of the country's ruling coalition, has called for the country to build four new reactors in its preliminary climate strategy.

According to Swedish press reports, party leader Jan Bjorklund called for new reactors to be built soon after the next election, due in 2010, as well as replacing the country's ten existing nuclear reactors with new nuclear capacity in due course. This would mean abandoning the country's ban on nuclear construction and plans for a phaseout of nuclear power put in place by a previous government.

The Liberal Party is a member of the centre-right coalition government led by the pro-nuclear Moderate Party. While the Christian Democrats, another coalition member, are largely pro-nuclear, the fourth member of the coalition, the Centre Party, has traditionally been more opposed to nuclear energy but has in recent years shown some softening of its stance. According to press reports, Anders Flanking, party secretary for the Centre Party, said that the Liberal Party's position was well-known. "The Liberal Party and the Moderates have promised not to push for the development (of nuclear power during the current mandate period), and we have promised not to push for a phase-out," he said.

Members of the coalition government had informally agreed not to raise the issue of Sweden's nuclear energy policy as this could create political cracks within the coalition. However, Bjorklund's comments have so far not appeared to have had any repercussions within the coalition and indeed may trigger a wider debate about the issue.

Sweden's decision to ban new nuclear build and ultimately phase out nuclear power was reached following a 1980 referendum. Originally the plans had been for all nuclear units to close by 2010, but although two reactors at the Barseback nuclear power station were closed in 1999 and 2005, the country's other operating units have since been reprieved. Since the referendum, nuclear operators have added the equivalent of an entire new reactor in output through capacity uprates.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Energy in Sweden information paper

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