The plant’s owners, state-owned Swedish energy group Vattenfall and Germany’s Uniper, said in 2015 that they would close Ringhals-2 more than five years earlier than previously planned – a result of falling demand, the falling price of electricity and the unit being in need of costly maintenance. Ringhals-1 is also scheduled for closure next year.
Vattenfall had planned to operate the 881-MW Ringhals-1 and the 807-MW Ringhals-2 until about 2025. But in September 2015 the company said all investment in the units would stop as of 2017, with savings of about €180m. The decision meant the two reactors cannot be operated after 2020, because they will not be upgraded to meet new safety requirements.
The station’s other two reactors, Ringhals-3 and Ringhals-4, are set to keep running until the 2040s. Vattenfall said in 2017 that it planned to invest about €90m to upgrade the units.
Vattenfall owns 10 nuclear reactors. Seven are in Sweden (four at Ringhals and three at Forsmark), and three in Germany (Brunsbüttel, Krümmel and a minority stake in Brokdorf).
The Brunsbüttel and Krümmel reactors have not generated electricity since 2007 because of the decisions to phase out nuclear in Germany.
In 2018 Vattenfall’s nuclear operations set a generation record of 55 TWh in 2018, an increase of 3.1 TWh over 2017.
The pros and cons of nuclear power have formed part of a long-running debate in Sweden, but press reports said the decision to close the Ringhals units was based purely on falling profitability and increased costs.
Sweden now has seven commercial reactors in operation at three nuclear stations: three at Ringhals, three at Forsmark and one at Oskarshamn. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency the nuclear fleet – at the time consisting of eight units – generated about 40% of the country’s electricity in 2018.
An April 2019 report by the International Energy Agency said Sweden should assess the contribution of nuclear power up to 2040 and the impact of potential early closures on the country’s energy security.
The report said nuclear power has operated efficiently in Sweden, at high availability and load factors.