Majority of Swedes support nuclear energy

17 March 2010

Over half of Swedes think that the country should continue to use nuclear power plants and that Sweden's existing reactors should be replaced with new ones, a new opinion poll has found.


The study was conducted by polling institute TNS Sifo on behalf of SKGS, which represents Sweden's electricity-intensive industries (forestry, chemical, mining and steel production). Between 16 and 24 February, TNS Sifo questioned 1500 Swedish adults.


  "The energy issue is too 
  important to be reduced 
  to a partisan weapon. 
  Sweden needs to
  develop - not dismantle -

  all carbon-free energy  
  sources, including nuclear
  Kenneth Eriksson
  President of SKGS

The poll showed that 52% of Swedes support the continued use of nuclear energy, 30% support the replacement of Sweden's current fleet of power reactors when they have reached the end of their operating lives and 22% think that additional new reactors should be built.


However, the results also indicated that 45% of the population support the phase-out of nuclear energy, with 37% saying that the existing fleet of reactors should not be replaced and 9% saying the existing plants should be shut down as soon as possible.


SKGS president Kenneth Eriksson commented, "Although the study was conducted at a time when nuclear power was challenged, following disruptions and high electricity prices, support for nuclear power is strong." He added, "It is reasonable to assume that the support would have been even higher in a more normal year."


When asked which source of energy is best for both employment and climate, nuclear was the most popular answer, with 26%, followed by wind (21%), hydro (18%), solar (14%) and biofuels (12%).


"With the government's proposals to include ten new reactors to replace the existing ten, and at the same time to invest in additional types of energy, there should be an opportunity to create national unity on energy policy, which Sweden also needs," said Eriksson. "The energy issue is too important to be reduced to a partisan weapon. Sweden needs to develop - not dismantle - all carbon-free energy sources, including nuclear power."


Sweden decided to ban new nuclear build and ultimately phase out nuclear power 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.


Last month, a bill was introduced by Sweden's government that would allow the construction of new reactors in the country. The amendments to be made in Sweden's Environmental Code and the Act on Nuclear Activities would repeal the so-called Settlement Act. However, under the proposal, new reactors could only be built at existing plant sites and only to replace currently operating units. The total number of new reactors would be limited to ten. The parliament has yet to approve the bill.


Opinion poll results have indicated growing support for nuclear energy over the past few years. A poll conducted in January 2008 by Synovate Temo on behalf of newspaper Dagens Nyheter, found that 48% of respondents backed the construction of new reactors, while 39% were opposed and 13% were undecided.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News