Volvo stops buying Swedish nuclear electricity

19 October 2007

Volvo's truck-making business announced that it has signed an energy supply contract with utility Vattenfall which specifies that as from 2008 none of its electricity would be generated from nuclear power plants. 


Volvo's environmental chief Inge Horkeby told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper that nuclear energy is not in line with the company's environmental goals. She said, "We place nuclear energy far down the scale. It's not sustainable from a number of aspects." She added, "The raw materials used to produce nuclear energy are a finite resource and the waste management problem has not been solved."


However, a position statement on Volvo's website says "Volvo is not opposed to nuclear energy." It continued, "Taking into account the climate issue, our view is that nuclear energy is needed in the energy system - perhaps even more nuclear power than today."


The agreement between Volvo and Vattenfall applies specifically to Sweden. Volvo said, "We have agreed on receiving renewable energy - nuclear energy is not renewable. The reason we made this demand is to help bring other alternative energy sources to the market. Accordingly, the aim of the agreement is not to eliminate nuclear energy but to choose alternatives in an effort to increase the availability of renewable energy on the market." The company said it will continue to use nuclear-generated electricity outside Sweden.


Volvo's statement said, "We would like to see that a parliamentary commission is appointed with the mission of investigating what the conditions are for continued use of nuclear power - particularly taking into account the fourth-generation." The statement continued, "We are not prepared to say that we should expand nuclear energy. What we are prepared to say, however, is that we believe that it would be favourable if we dared to again take a look and seriously investigate the conditions for the future of nuclear energy against the background of the technology development that has occurred since the referendum in 1980. There has not been any new thinking about nuclear energy in Sweden since then."


Volvo said that, since the 1970s, it has had environmental consideration as one of its core values and its long-term objectives include increasing the share of the carbon dioxide-neutral energy that it uses, reducing energy consumption by 50% per manufactured unit and not using coal or oil for heating.


The company has stated it aims to power all of its worldwide plants using renewable energy sources. Volvo said its truck plant in Ghent, Belgium, is the world's first vehicle factory to be totally carbon dioxide-free. Onsite wind turbines and a biomass production facility provide most of the plant's energy requirements. The remaining electricity is provided by Electrabel from renewable sources. The Ghent plant produces 40,000 trucks annually.


Claes Nilsson, President Europe Division of Volvo Trucks explained, "We are fully aware of the environmental problems we have in the world today and we're working to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in both fixed facilities and from vehicles." He added, "However, for practical and economic reasons it is simpler to make a factory carbon-dioxide free, something we achieved within a period of two years."


Further information


Volvo Trucks

WNA's Nuclear Energy in Sweden information paper