Swedish nuclear: Government moves to change law

05 October 2023

A bill to amend Sweden's legislation on nuclear power has been introduced by the country's government in parliament. It aims to remove the current law limiting the number of reactors in operation to ten, as well as allowing reactors to be built on new sites, rather than just existing ones.

The Swedish parliament building (Image: hpgruesen / Pixabay)

"The proposals mean that the provision in the Environmental Code which states that the government may only authorise a new nuclear power reactor if it replaces a permanently closed reactor and is built on a site where one of the existing reactors is located is removed," the government said. "It must be possible to allow more than ten reactors in operation at the same time and in other locations than before. A consequential change is proposed in a provision in the Act on Nuclear Activities which contains a reference to the prohibitions in the Environmental Code."

The changes to the law are proposed to enter into force on 1 January 2024.

In October last year, Sweden's incoming centre-right coalition government adopted a positive stance towards nuclear energy, with the Christian Democrats, the Liberals, the Moderates and the Sweden Democrats releasing their written agreement on policies - referred to as the Tidö Agreement. With regards to energy, the agreement said the energy policy goal is "changed from 100% renewable to 100% fossil-free". In the Tidö Agreement, it is assumed electricity demand of at least 300 TWh in 2045, double the current demand.

The agreement also said necessary regulations should be developed to create the conditions for the construction and operation of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Sweden. In addition, the permitting process for nuclear power plants must be shortened.

In January this year, a formal proposal to amend Sweden's legislation on nuclear power was presented by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Climate and Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari. The proposed legislative amendments were then open for consultation for three months.

The government made a final decision on 28 September to introduce the bill to parliament.

"Access to clean electricity is crucial for Sweden's transition. Through today's decision, we are increasing the pace of the green transition and paving the way for more nuclear power in more places," Kristersson said. "With new nuclear power, we are creating the conditions to reduce emissions."

"Expanding nuclear power is one of the most important climate measures for Sweden," Pourmokhtari added. "We need to double electricity production by the year 2045, and a large part of this needs to come from plannable power. Therefore, the coalition parties are working with full force to remove the obstacles that have previously been raised against new nuclear power."

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch said: "Swedish companies and families must be able to count on clean electricity at competitive prices at all hours of the year. Giving nuclear power the same conditions as other fossil-free power types and thus paving the way for new nuclear power is crucial to rebuilding a robust electricity system throughout the country."

"This is the first of several steps aimed at enabling and facilitating new nuclear power investments in Sweden," noted Tobias Andersson, chairman of the economic committee. "The voters who appointed this government expect new nuclear power reactors and we are determined that it will happen."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News