In WISE Bulletin vol. 2 nr. 3 we wrote about the referendum in Sweden: "The Swedish experience is showing how dangerous a referendum can be, when the pro-nuclear forces decide to use it as a political tool." The referendum offered three choices, to complete the reactor program by building 6 more reactors, to build 6 more reactors but phase out nuclear power in a reasonable way, or to stop nuclear power in 10 years and increase alternative energy research and development and implementation.
The results of the referendum were: 19% for option 1, 39% for option 2 and 39% for option 3. There was no clear winner, 78% of the voters wanted to end nuclear energy, but 58% also wanted to build 6 more reactors. The government decided first to complete the reactor program and afterwards to phase out nuclear power.
Since then only 2 of the 12 reactors have closed and it is not known when the remaining 10 will follow. Half of the energy produced at the Barseback 2 reactor (closed on 1 June 2005) is to be replaced by a new wind park, which will be ready in 2010. However, rumors exist of a Euro 1.65 billion (US$1.99 billion) modernisation programme to increase the generation capacity of 7 nuclear power reactors to replace the other 50% of energy from Barseback 2.
But the fight is not over yet. Even if it is decided that the nuclear power plants will close, no timetable has been set for this. The decision on full phase out will be partly based on whether renewable sources and energy conservation measures can fully replace the nuclear capacity. But public opinion will also have an impact and in Sweden the public are showing less aversion to nuclear power nowadays because of the false claims that it will help with global warming, and despite there still being no solution to nuclear waste.
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Editorial team: Dirk Bannink and Tinu Otoki (WISE Amsterdam), Michael Mariotte (NIRS). With contributions from CORE, Earthlife Africa, Friends of the Earth Europe, Laka Foundation, NIRS, WISE Russia and WISE Amsterdam.
The next issue (633) will be mailed out September 2, 2005.