Decommissioning dates set for Ringhals 1 and 2

16 October 2015

Sweden's Ringhals 2 is to be decommissioned in 2019 and Ringhals 1 in 2020, majority owner Vattenfall announced yesterday following an extraordinary general meeting of plant operator Ringhals AB.

Ringhals (Annika Örnborg)_460
Ringhals: Two out of four units are scheduled for early decommissioning
(Image: Annika Örnborg)

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 early September, the company said that it would limit future investment in the units, effectively meaning that they would be unable to operate beyond 2020. The final decision to decommission the units required approval by the Ringhals AB board and the plant's minority owner, EOn.

Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of generation at Vattenfall and chairman of the board of Ringhals AB, said that the decision had been based on analyses carried out over the summer considering factors including fuel costs, future maintenance and investments required to operate the reactors until 2020, and requirements for skills and resources. The year of closure for each unit was guided by considerations of fuel economy and technical separation of the joint systems shared by the plants.

Acccording to Vattenfall, Wahlborg said that it had been "absolutely essential to take the decision now" to enable Ringhals to undertake detailed planning and optimize the costs of both investments and maintenance. However, Vattenfall's own report of the announcement acknowledged that EOn would have preferred the analyses to continue further before the final decision on commissioning was made.

Ringhals 1 is an 878 MWe boiling water reactor that has been in operation since 1976. Prior to Vattenfall's announcement it had been scheduled for closure in 2026. Unit 2 is an 807 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) that began operation in 1975 and had been scheduled to shut down in 2025. Two newer and larger PWR units at the Ringhals site, Ringhals 3 and 4, are unaffected by the decision, and are expected to remain in operation for 60 years under current plans.

Vattenfall wrote down the value of Ringhals by SEK 17 billion ($2 billion) - the entire value of units 1 and 2 - earlier this year.

The announcement of the planned decommissioning dates for Ringhals 1 and 2 came the day after EOn announced a decision to close two of the three units at Oskarshamn, with unit 1 closing between 2017 and 2019 and unit 2 by 2020. That closure decision was also based on the units' inability to operate profitably under current conditions, with low wholesale electricity prices and the added burden of Sweden's tax on nuclear power.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News