WNISR 3 January 2021
On 1 January 2021, Swedish energy company Vattenfall announced that its 46-year-old Ringhals-1 reactor had been closed.
Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant — Photo Vattenfall
The 760-MW Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), located on the Varo Peninsula 65km from Gothenburg, was connected to the grid on 14 October 1974 and was closed on 31 December 2020. The Ringhals plant is owned by Vattenfall (70.4%) and Sydkraft Nuclear Power (29.6%).
A parliamentary motion on 22 January 2020, attempting to reverse the closure of the Ringhals reactor, failed by one vote. As reported in WNISR2019, the efforts to reverse the closure decision on Ringhals conflicted with the position of the reactor owners. Vattenfall’s decision to close the reactors was due to the reactors being uneconomic, safety concerns over containment aging, the requirement for major investment in many upgrades, as well as the need for new licensing.
On 28 November 2019, the head of the company’s generation department, Torbjorn Wahlborg, said that Vattenfall never intended to operate Ringhals-1 and -2 longer than into the mid-2020s. He added that although electricity prices are higher at the end of 2019 than they were in 2015 when the company took the decisionto close the reactors five years earlier than planned, “there is so much renewable energy in the [electricity] system that there is no place in the market for these reactors.”
Currently, Ringhals unit 3 and 4 are planned to be operated for 60 years, with closure in the early 2040’s. The closure of Ringhals-1 leaves Sweden with six commercial reactors. Worldwide 412 reactors remain in operation.