Sweden’s new government to go nuclear

The Oskarshamn nuclear power plant. Photo credit: Daniel Kihlgren – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia.

By Anders Lorenzen

The new centre-right government in Sweden is making a big break from previous governments’ energy policies – announcing that for the first time in decades Sweden will build new nuclear reactors.

The new government is a coalition of three parties; Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals. However, many will be worried that the government will enjoy support from the far-right party, Sweden Democrats. It will be a break from eight years of rule by the Social Democrats, who set in place some strong climate policies.

But the government headed by the leader of the Moderates, Ulf Kristesson, is adamant they will stick to the country’s climate goals and the pledges set out in the Paris Agreement.

Nuclear to meet rising energy demands

And they aim to do so by creating a new future for energy production. After having pledged to phase out nuclear energy in 1980, Sweden will now increase its nuclear energy capacity by announcing new reactors will be built to meet the rising energy needs in the country.

Ebba Busch, the leader of the Christian Democrats said: “New nuclear reactors will be built. We are going to meet our end of the Paris Agreement, but without destroying companies’ and Swedish households’ finances. The goal going forward is electrification and the way there is nuclear power”, she said.

In recent years, Sweden has shut down six of its 12 reactors. And the remaining ones, at three nuclear power plants, generate about 30 percent of the electricity used in the country today.

Around the world, many climate activists are passionately opposed to nuclear energy. None more so than in Germany. There, years of campaigning have meant the country is close to the closure of all its nuclear reactors, causing a hefty increase in consumption of coal and gas.  

And the announcement from the new Swedish government came as the world’s most famous climate activist, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, said on German TV that it would be a mistake to close down existing nuclear reactors if it meant more coal consumption.  

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