• Sweden's news in English

Sweden in nuclear energy reversal

TT/AFP/The Local · 5 Feb 2009, 10:02

Published: 05 Feb 2009 10:02 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The government added that the plants could instead be replaced at the end of their life spans as part of an ambitious new climate programme.

"The phase-out law will be abolished. The ban in the nuclear technology law on new construction will also be abolished," the centre-right government said in a statement.

"Authorizations can be granted to successively replace the existing reactors once they reach the end of their economic life spans," it said.

The country had planned to wind down its nuclear energy capacity, ending it in about 30 years' time or when the installations came to the end of their lives.

Since 1999, it has closed two of its 12 nuclear reactors.

Nuclear power accounts for nearly half of Sweden's electricity production.

Atomic energy policy has long been a symbol of division in the ranks of the centre-right, which has held power in Sweden since 2006.

The country voted in a non-binding referendum in 1980 to phase out Sweden's 12 nuclear reactors by 2010, but that target was abandoned in 1997 after officials acknowledged that there would not be sufficient alternative energy sources to replace the nuclear output.

Instead, the government agreed to phase out nuclear power over the course of about three decades by not replacing the aging reactors.

The government said no state money would be provided for nuclear projects.

"Swedish electricity production currently stands on only two legs -- hydro power and nuclear power. The climate issue is now in the spotlight and nuclear power will therefore remain an important part of Swedish electricity production in the foreseeable future," the government said as it announced a climate package featuring a number of lofty goals.

The plan stipulates that by 2020 Sweden would use 50 percent renewable energy, of which 10 percent in the transport sector, 20 percent more efficient energy, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent.

The use of fossil fuels as a heating source would be abolished by 2020, and Sweden's entire vehicle fleet would be independent of fossil fuels by 2030.

Under the plan, Sweden would be carbon neutral by 2050.

The current four-party government in power since October 2006 has been divided on the issue of nuclear power, with the junior Centre Party, formerly agrarian, fiercely opposed.

However, pressure mounted on party leader Maud Olofsson last week when the Christian Democrats switched sides on the issue, joining the Moderates and the Liberal Party in calling for the ban to be lifted.

After a top secret party meeting on Wednesday evening, the Centre Party announced it too had completed a policy switch, although Olofsson characterized the shift differently following the government's announcement.

"The Centre Party has not changed its opinion when it comes to nuclear power, but we can live with the fact that nuclear power will be a part of Swedish electricity production in the foreseeable future," she told the TT news agency.

"We didn't want to build new reactors, but three of us do and I respect that. They respect that I don't like nuclear power."

Olofsson said Thursday was a "historic day", as the "four parties take a step toward a sustainable society."

But the left-wing opposition lamented the announcement.

"We agree that nuclear power belongs to the past," Left Party leader Lars Ohly said.

The Social Democrats, which have governed Sweden for all but 11 years since 1932, called the decision "shortsighted" and "not a serious basis for discussions," in a statement.

Story continues below…

On Saturday, party leader Mona Sahlin told reporters: "I'm convinced that the future of Swedish energy policy is not called nuclear power."

Given the left's strong opposition, the issue could become a crucial campaign issue when Swedes go to the polls in general elections in September 2010.

Industry meanwhile welcomed the news.

"It is wonderful that the conditions have been created for Sweden to have a more rational and climate-efficient energy policy," the director general of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Urban Baeckström, said in a statement.

"This is a big step forward after all these years of deadlock and endless discussions. But better late than never," Sverker Martin-Löf, the chairman of the board of two energy-intensive Swedish companies, paper maker SCA and steel maker SSAB, told TT.

A poll published a year ago showed 48 percent of Swedes were in favour of the construction of new nuclear power stations, while 39 percent said they were opposed.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission-free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available