Half of Sweden's nuclear reactors offline
Aug 3, 2006, 15:41 GMT
Stockholm - The price of electricity on the joint Nordic electricity bourse rose Thursday on the news that five of Sweden's 10 nuclear reactors were offline.
Low water levels in the country's hydroelectric dams were also a factor, analysts said, after a 2.4-percent increase on Wednesday's average spot price on the Nord Pool that trades in power between Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.
Regulatory authorities said they did not expect a power shortage in Sweden, noting the situation would have been worse if it had occurred during the winter.
Four of Sweden's 10 nuclear reactors were offline Thursday as part of reviews of their backup systems, while a fifth reactor was shut down for regular maintenance work.
The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) said it had received reports from the operators of the plants, including the Forsmark nuclear power plant where the incident occurred last week.
Two of four backup generators malfunctioned after the reactor shut down, and technicians investigating the fault believed it was linked to electricity supply from the network.
Nuclear inspectorate spokesman Anders Jorle said on Swedish radio the incident was 'unfortunate. If you have a backup system it is intended to function. If it doesn't, the plant cannot operate - those are the rules.'
Since a similar design was in use at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in southeastern Sweden, the Oskarshamn management decided to shut down two of the plant's three reactors pending a review.
A reactor at the Ringhals nuclear power plant on the Swedish west coast has a different design, and was offline due to planned maintenance work.
Environment Minister Lena Sommestad said the announcements indicated that security procedures in place were working.
Sommestad added the incident was 'an important reminder why we have policy to gradually phase out' nuclear power, she told Swedish radio.
Jorle said the agency would review the reports from the operators could not say when they would be allowed to resume production.
Politicians and environmental groups have called for a comprehensive, independent review of safety at Swedish nuclear power plants.
Sommestad has said she would consider that request raised by among others the anti-nuclear Green Party that backs the ruling minority Social Democrats.
Two opposition parties, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party, welcomed a review. The Centre Party - a long-time critic of nuclear power - recently said it favoured allowing the reactors to serve out their lifetime while also investing on other energy sources.
Sweden operated 12 nuclear rectors at most. Two at the Barseback plant in southern Sweden have been decommissioned, most recently in May 2005.
A 1980 referendum decided Sweden would phase out nuclear power, which accounts for about half of the country's electricity.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur