Sweden may be about to turn its back on a 30-year ban on new nuclear power plants.
Legislation proposed this week could allow new plants to replace the aging current crop, which supply about 40% of the country’s electricity. The government is also looking to increase the liability of those who run nuclear plants in the event of an accident (press release, new plants proposal, liability proposal).
“We won’t have more reactors than the 10 we have now. In 10 years’ time, one or two could be invested in,” Andreas Carlgren, the country’s environment minister, told Reuters.
Sweden turned against nuclear power in the 80s, with the country voting in a referendum to ban any new power plants and to not replace the current plants at the end of their operational lives. A previous proposal to replace the current nuclear plants was mooted in February 2009.
Swedish Daily News says it will only take four MPs to rebel against the government for the new proposals to fall. So far two have already come out against new nuclear build.
“During the 80s everyone talked about the risks all the time. But not any more,” says Solvieg Ternstrom, one of the rebels (WSJ). “This bill is a betrayal. It’s the new generation. They don’t know how dangerous it is.”
Ternstrom is joined by environmental groups – such as Friends of the Earth Sweden – in opposing the proposals. Others think them essential though.
“We have no alternative,” says Kenneth Eriksson, chairman of forestry, mining and steel industry group SKGS (WSJ). “…If we want to lower our emissions this is the only way. Wind power can only get us so far.”
Image: nuclear plant at Forsmark, photo by robin-root via Flickr under creative commons.