Sweden’s energy minister, Anna-Karin Hatt says her country will not be following the British example of offering state guarantees in order entice investment in the construction of nuclear new builds.
Ms Hatt also added that the deal in the UK needed to be looked at by the European Commission in terms of what it means for competition law in the common EU market.
The World Nuclear Association has responded to the minister’s comments, saying that the industry would appreciate ‘a level playing field’ operating in the country.
Despite Swedish power group Vattenfall championing the British system as the way forward, the minister begged to differ.
“We won’t address any direct or indirect subsidies for new nuclear power production in Sweden, which means that we will not introduce any feed-in tariff for nuclear,” she told reporters in Paris covering the biannual International Energy Agency’s ministerial conference
“Nuclear in Sweden has to stand on its own, it has to bear its own cost, it has to bear its insurance cost as well as the cost for handling the waste after the uranium has been used,” she said.
Reuters reports that the International Energy Agency has called on Sweden to develop post-2030 scenarios for nuclear in a future energy mix and recognise the hurdles new nuclear investment faces in a liberalised market.
The Paris-based IEA said Sweden must replace its ageing nuclear plants between 2022 and 2035, assuming an operational lifespan of 50 years for each reactor.
The centre-right coalition government in 2010 overturned a nuclear phase-out policy, dating from the 1980s, by permitting construction of new plants to replace Sweden’s existing 10 reactors, which now provide about 40 per cent of its electricity.
Hatt said Sweden will stick to its position in spite of the EDF Hinkley Point deal and that the European Commission should examine any possible distortion to competition in the common EU market.
“I won’t judge on what kind of choices Great Britain makes, that’s an issue for the British government and the people that have appointed them. But it is very important that the Commission looks into the issue,” she said.
The British project will need EU approval in the coming months.
At the IEA conference the minister said she would seek in her keynote speech to explain to delegates how Sweden managed to promote renewable energy without imposing a burden on energy-intensive companies and consumers.
The cost of renewable energy subsidies for an average Swedish household is only ten per cent of what a German household has to pay, she said.
Responding to the minister’s comments Virginie Ryan-Taïx, Head of Strategic Communication at the World Nuclear Association told Power Engineering International that the industry was simply interested in fair play.
“Sweden benefits from a very low carbon electricity mix thanks to nuclear and large hydro generation. These two forms of generation are expected to remain key to Sweden’s electricity generation mix, with new nuclear power replacing reactors as they retire.”
“The principal new source of renewable power in Sweden is wind, which is favoured by feed-in-tariffs, and does not contribute to its system costs. Sweden has a specific nuclear tax, costing €6.7/MWh, while new renewables are subsidised. So Sweden may well want nuclear to stand on its own two feet, but it should allow it to do so on a level playing field.”
Commenting to PEi on the comparison with the UK’s nuclear policy, Ms Ryan Taix said, “The UK’s feed in tariffs have been set up to promote long-term planning in the UK electricity market, which otherwise was heading for an unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels. They have been offered to many forms of clean generation, with the price agreed for nuclear amongst the lowest.”
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