With electricity consumption in Sweden expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades, power company Vattenfall said on 28 June that it is working to find how different fossil-free energy sources can satisfy the increased demand. As part of this, Vattenfall is initiating a pilot study looking at the conditions for building at least two small modular reactors (SMRs) adjacent to the NPP.

"We will need all fossil-free energy sources to meet the increasing demand for electricity in Sweden. SMR is a fossil-free technology that has come a long way in recent times, so we want to investigate the conditions for building small modular reactors in the vicinity of Ringhals nuclear power plant," said Vattenfall’s CEO Anna Borg.

"No investment decisions have been made but, during the spring, Vattenfall’s management team have been working on the issue of new nuclear power in Sweden. Provided that a pilot study concludes that it would be profitable and all other conditions for a future investment decision are met, in particular, new regulations for nuclear power, it should be possible to have the first SMR reactor in operation by the early 2030s," she added.

There is a need for more electricity generation in southern Sweden, which is why the pilot study is focusing on the conditions for building SMRs in the southern bidding zones, primarily close to the Ringhals plant.

"Ringhals is a suitable location for new nuclear power for several reasons. On the one hand, we are allowed to replace the two shutdown reactors Ringhals 1 and Ringhals 2 within the existing legislation, and on the other hand, there is already grid infrastructure in place that makes connecting new electricity generation simpler. There's also a lot of acceptance for both existing and new nuclear power at Ringhals and Forsmark. One major advantage is also the comprehensive skill level available at Ringhals," said Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of Business Area Generation at Vattenfall.

The pilot study will look at the central issues in order to assess the conditions for proceeding with a decision to build at least two SMR reactors adjacent to Ringhals NPP. Work on the pilot study will start immediately and it is expected to be completed by around the end of 2023 or early 2024.

Image: The existing Ringhals nuclear power plant (photo courtesy of Vattenfall)