Sweden makes regulatory push to allow new nuclear reactors

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a joint statement with French President Emmanuel Macron before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 3, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Sweden is preparing legislation to allow the construction of more nuclear power stations to boost electricity production in the Nordic country and bolster energy security, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Wednesday.

Kristersson has made expanding nuclear power generation a key goal for his right-wing government, seeking to reverse a process of gradual closures of several reactors in the past couple of decades that has left the country relying more heavily on renewable but sometimes less predictable energy.

Sweden's energy mix consists mainly of nuclear, hydro and renewables and while it so far has been less affected by the turmoil surrounding gas supplies due to Russia's standoff with the West, electricity prices have been high and volatile since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.

The proposed new legislation, which still needs to be passed by parliament, would allow new reactors to be constructed at additional locations across Sweden and was seen being in place in March next year.

"We have an obvious need for more electricity production in Sweden," Kristersson told a news conference.

"What we are doing today is changing legislation to allow for the construction of more nuclear reactors at more places."

The new legislation would scrap existing rules that caps the total number of reactors at ten and prohibits reactor construction in other locations than where they currently exist, opening the door to building smaller reactors that many see as the most cost-effective nuclear option.

Any expansion of nuclear power in Sweden could take many years given the complexity of such projects while energy demand is expected to rise sharply in coming years.

Sweden currently has six operational reactors, half of what it once had, and temporary closures for maintenance of some of them have contributed to push up electricity prices in the Nordic country in recent months.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Niklas Pollard, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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