Swedish utility Vattenfall, said 22 May, that "extensive upgrades" at its Forsmark and Ringhals nuclear power plants means that it can now plan to operate five of its seven reactors for ‘up to 60 years.’

Vattenfall, which had previously envisaged an operating life of ‘at least’ 50 years, said that it would now examine the investments needed to operate nuclear power safely and profitably for up to a decade longer.

According to the company’s current assessments "the technical and economic preconditions exist to operate Ringhals 1 and Ringhals 2 for 50 years." Meanwhile, Ringhals 3&4 and Forsmark 1, 2 and 3, which started operation in the 1980s, could operate for "up to 60 years," Vattenfall said.

Vattenfall is currently conducting "the most extensive modernisation programme in the history of Swedish nuclear power," according to Torbjörn Wahlborg, Head of Business Division Nuclear Power. He said that the company plans to invest SEK 16 billion [almost $2.5bn] over a five-year period between 2013 and 2017, and that the modernisation process will "lay the way to operating these plants for many more decades to come."

Ringhals 1 an 897 MW boiling water reactor, and Ringhals 2 a 900 MW Westinghouse pressurized water, began commercial operation in 1976 and 1975, respectively. Vattenfall’s remaining reactors entered operation in 1980 (Forsmark 1), 1981 (Forsmark 2 and Ringhals 3), 1983 (Ringhals 4) and 1985 (Forsmark 3.

Sweden has three other boiling water reactors Oskarshamn 1-3, operated by OKG, a subsidiary of E.ON.

Photo: Forsmark 3, Sweden’s youngest unit