Ringhals nuclear power site, Sweden (Press photo Vattenfall)

Winter is still going strong in Sweden. For its electricity the country relies heavily on hydro and nuclear power, and will even do more so in the future. But Sweden struggles with keeping everything up and running.

Featured image: The Ringhals nuclear power site of Sweden (Press photo by Vattenfall)

Currently the biggest Scandinavian country could potentially have 10 nuclear power plants: three in Forsmark relatively close to Uppsala and Stockholm, three in Oskarshamn on the Southeastern Coast, and four in Ringhals near Gothenburg. But only six are currently operational, and of the remaining four some will likely never come online again.

Planned maintenance on Ringhals 4 does not go as easy as thought, and restarting the reactor will be postponed another month to 19 March 2023, energy company Vattenfall has said in a statement. Earlier 23 February was mentioned, and before that 31 January.

The Ringhals site is run as a joint venture of state-owned Vattenfall (70.4%) and Sydkraft Nuclear Power (29.6%), the latter being a daughter company of Germany based Uniper.

Fire in reactor house

But the nuclear power production in Sweden is struggling. After a giant mistake, leaving equipment inside the reactor house while starting up, damaged the inside of Ringhals 2 by a fire, it closed down in 2019. Ringhals 1 was shut down on the last day of 2020.

Sweden’s biggest nuclear plant

An error in Sweden’s largest reactor and biggest energy plant, O3 in Oskarshamn with an effect of 1450 MW, was disconnected from the grid several times in 2022 due to technical problems. The other two smaller reactors in Oskarshamn were shut down in 2015 and 2017, on initiative of the Swedish government. Forsmarks three reactors are up and running. All remaining reactors are from the 1980s, and five of the operational six have an effect higher than 1,000 megawatts but most of them produce at only 70% to 90% of their full capacity, according to data from the Swedish nuclear inspection. All reactors from the 1960s and 1970s are no longer in use, including the two small 600-MW reactors of Barsebäck near Malmö and the research reactors in Studsvik somewhat south of Stockholm.

Small Modular Reactors in Sweden

But there is some light for nuclear power enthusiasts. The right-wing Swedish government that came to power in October 2022 wants new reactors, on more locations. Oskarshamn is already building a research reactor. State-owned Vattenfall is already planning for adding at least two so-called Small Modular Reactors in Ringhals. | © 2023 Marcel Burger, nordicreporter.com

Overview of Sweden’s nuclear power plants

Active nuclear reactors SwedenOperational sincePower effect in MW (100%)
Forsmark 11980990
Forsmark 219811,118
Forsmark 319851,172
Ringhals 319811,062
Ringhals 419831,120
Oskarshamn 319851,450
Source: IAEA