Can Sweden's nuclear plants deliver?
Sweden's nuclear power plants are not up to scratch, according to a report that Swedish television picked up by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency. Sweden, producing just 63 percent of its nuclear capacity, ranks at the bottom of the list of European countries' efficiency.
For most of last year, four out of the country's 10 nuclear plants were out of service, reports Swedish television. And plants reported more than 200 problems during this time.
For a nation that relies on nuclear power for about half of its electricity needs, inefficiencies with those plants can take quite a toll on household costs. One energy analysis company told Swedish television that it estimates that last year's problems stuck Swedes with a one billion dollar bill. Now, with winter just around the corner, there are worries that families will once again have to dig deep into their pockets to pay for heating.
Daniel Johansson, a top civil servant for the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, told Radio Sweden that the nuclear companies have prioritized safety over producing at full capacity. But in terms of efficiency, he believes they may have "not been the best in planning their investments in the plants."
"They might have been doing quite big upgrades instead of doing gradual updates on the plants," said Johansson. "They had underestimated the problems with these upgrades," he added.
Maud Olofsson, the minister of energy, met with the industry last week, to make sure last year's electricity shortfall will not occur again.
According to Johansson, the industry told the ministry that they have learned some lessons. Johansson also reported that the industry seems to be on their way to having all plants back up and running, but for one, which he expects to be ready in late November. He added that the companies have assured the ministry that the situation will improve.
"We have to trust them," said Johansson of the industry. "If they can't fulfill that, then I guess, we will have to consider more concrete measures.