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Published:16 november 2021, 09:00

Examples of small modular reactors, SMR. Illustration: Rolls Royce

Electricity and hydrogen drive the climate change, and as early as 2045, the government expects a double use of electricity to meet the climate goals of the industrial and transport sectors. At the same time, the price differences for electricity are increasing sharply within the country and Svenska kraftnät is forced to take extensive measures to keep the system in balance.

It is not only the amount of electricity over the year but also when it is produced and what properties it otherwise has that is decisive for a well-functioning power system. The challenge of doubling production at the same time as the energy system regains the necessary balance is tough but possible to achieve. Together, new offshore wind power and new modern nuclear power could meet that challenge, according to the energy company Fortum.

– In the debate, there is a contradiction between wind power and nuclear power, which is extra unfortunate because from a Swedish energy system perspective, more wind power expansion is made possible by nuclear power, says Sara Nilsson, business developer at Fortum.

The government’s investment in an expansion of offshore wind to increase total electricity production has been going on for a long time and there was great interest even before the news came; applications corresponding to three times Sweden’s current total electricity use are waiting to be processed. Fortum sees offshore wind power as an important addition, but at the same time highlights the need for an energy system that can meet society’s high demands on security of supply.

– The energy discussion has long emerged because weather-dependent and planned power types have different properties that can complement, but not replace, each other, says Sara Nilsson and continues:

– Last year, consumers in southern Sweden paid nine billion more for their electricity than those in the northern part of the country and it seems to be more this year. It is a symptom of imbalances in the system that need to be addressed if the energy system is to be able to deliver what is needed to meet the climate goals. Few in southern Sweden have also missed the effects of German energy policy, where sharply increased fossil gas dependence pushed up electricity prices further this autumn.

The challenge is to bring in much more fossil-free planned power in southern Sweden, both to cover existing power deficits and to meet the expansion of offshore wind power.

– It is here, among other things, that small modular reactors, SMR, can play a central role, says Sara Nilsson.

In the south, SMR can enable a large expansion of offshore wind at the same time as they can be placed in a way that relieves the electricity networks by the power then being available close to where it is needed, when it is needed. The large industrial investments in the north with the production of fossil-free steel together with battery factories and data centers will increase the electricity demand by approximately 80 TWh.

– This presupposes stable electricity deliveries at competitive prices, says Sara Nilsson, and believes that SMR can also play a crucial role both for the electricity system and directly for the new industries, not least because they can be placed next door so that the need for costly network expansion is reduced.

– With the right balance between new weather-dependent electricity production such as offshore and onshore wind power, existing and new planable nuclear power and hydropower, it is possible to build a delivery-safe, fossil-free and cost-effective energy system. My personal opinion is also that new nuclear power is the best alternative for both the climate and the environment, concludes Sara Nilsson.

Read more about Fortum here

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