Vattenfall said the study is focusing on Ringhals in southern Sweden because more electricity generation is expected to be needed in those areas. Two reactor units are currently in commercial operation at Ringhals-3 and -4.
Anna Borg, chief executive of Vattenfall, said fossil-free energy sources will be necessary to meet increasing demand for electric power in Sweden while SMRs are such a technology that has “come a long way in recent times” and therefore the company wants to look at the conditions for building SMRs near Ringhals.
According to Ms Borg, no investment decisions have been made to date but over the past months Vattenfall has been working on the issue of new nuclear power in Sweden.
“Provided that a pilot study concludes that it would be profitable and all other conditions for a future investment decision are met, in particular, new regulations for nuclear power, it should be possible to have the first SMR reactor in operation by the early 2030s," she said.
Two older boiling water reactor units were shut down at Ringhals-1 and -2 in 2021 and 2019 after more than four decades of commercial operation.
Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of business area generation at Vattenfall, said new nuclear power at Ringhals will be suitable to replace those retired units where the relevant infrastructure exists currently. He said the local communities have “a lot of acceptance” for both existing and new nuclear power at the Ringhals and Forsmark nuclear power stations.
Vattenfall said work on the SMR study is scheduled to start immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 or early 2024.
According to data by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Sweden’s fleet of six nuclear reactor units at three sites provided about a third of the country’s electricity generation in 2021.