Vattenfall has upgraded the nuclear reactors at its Forsmark and Ringhals power plants in Sweden.

The upgrade of the nuclear reactors means that Vattenfall can now plan for an operating time of up to 60 years for five reactors and 50 years for two reactors. The previously planned operating time for the reactors was at least 50 years.

Vattenfall is a majority owner of the Forsmark and Ringhals nuclear power plants which started operation between 1975 and 1985.

The company has also recently carried out a new assessment of the preconditions for the long-term operation of its nuclear reactors.

Torbjorn Wahlborg, head of Vattenfall’s Nuclear Power business division, said: “Vattenfall, Forsmark and Ringhals will now examine the investments needed to operate nuclear power safely and profitably for up to 60 years. This does not mean a decision on decommissioning at a specific date, it’s a matter of planning, of determining the basis for calculating the investments needed for a specific total operating time.”

The current assessment by Vattenfall is that the technical and economic preconditions exist to operate Ringhals 1 and Ringhals 2 for 50 years and the other Swedish nuclear reactors which began operation in the 1980s – Ringhals 3 and 4 as well as Forsmark 1, 2 and 3 – for up to 60 years.

“Vattenfall is currently conducting the most extensive modernisation programme in the history of Swedish nuclear power,” said Wahlborg, adding that the company is planning to invest SEK 16bn ($2.3bn) over a five-year period between now and 2017.

“From a technical standpoint, the modernisation process will lay the way to operating these plants for many more decades to come,” he said.