The Swedish nuclear policy is a strange thing, ever since in 1980 when there was a poll what people thought of nuclear energy (just after the Harrisburg incident mind you) we have had a policy to dismantle and rid the country of nuclear power plants. Of course we have not had that much to replace it with, we do have a fair lot of hydro power plants that work well but that is also a limited resource and the large rivers suiteable for this are mainly already used.
In the Swedish law we even had the following provision:
6 § Ingen får utarbeta konstruktionsritningar, beräkna kostnader, beställa utrustning eller vidta andra sådana förberedande åtgärder i syfte att inom landet uppföra en kärnkraftsreaktor. Lag (1987:3).
6 § No person is allowed to establish construction drawings, calculate costs, order material or equipment or in any other way in the country act to the end to construct a nuclear reactor. Law (1987:3)
Imagine that, almost a ban on thoughts this one. And the poll that was taken in 1980 was kind of strange these were the responses you could chose from:
- To phase out nuclear power in a way that other energy sources are able to be used instead. Reactors that are already built or about to be built will be allowed to be used. No further reactors are allowed to be built.
- Basically the same as 1 but the reactors about to be built should not be allowed.
- Phase out the existing reactors within ten years, not allow any more to be built.
There was never a line for the people who wanted to continue or develop nuclear power further.
We still have those reactors and just recently have the politicians realized that they are quite absurdly old. Some of them are more than 25 years old and because of the ban on research competence in this area is severely lacking in Sweden today.
Compared with burning fossil fuels a nuclear reactor must be considered a better choice. Wind power will never be possible to use for the bulk of our energy for two reasons, one is that it would require an unimaginable construction of wind power farms along the coast lines of Sweden and the other is that the electrical grid actually won’t work effectively with this. The electricity grid needs to be ”stiff” in that the frequency can’t change or there is some limit on reactive power that consumes resources in the transportation of electrical power from generator to consumer.
Tests with wind power shows that a traditional electrical grid can tolerate some 20% injection of non-stable power generation before this starts to become a serious engineering problem requiring a full redesign of the grid or perhaps using High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission on the backbone of the electrical grid.
Solar panels are not that feasible in this country where it is rather dark in the winter time (when we need the electricity the most) and the trials that were done in the eighties and nineties growing ”energy forests” for bio-fuel turned out to be a disaster for both the farmland and the energy content was very low in it, it was just not worth it.
I think it is time to re-evaluate nuclear power. The technology exists for a reasonably safe use, we have the most stable rock bed in the world to store the waste in kilometres below the earth and the technology we have been using for the past 25 years have proven to be quite reliable when taken care of properly.
Or, we could buy brown coal electricity from Germany perhaps?