Prime minister's wind for nuclear plan meets scepticism

Wind power should be developed in Sweden so that production reaches the same level as that from the two nuclear reactors at Barsebäck within ten years, Prime Minister Göran Persson said in late September. Persson was speaking at the "Envisions in Västerås" conference, held in central Sweden where the nuclear industry has its centre. His public commitment to wind follows a positive decision by the Swedish courts that the law requiring utility Sydkraft to close down the Barsebäck 1 reactor does conform with the country's constitution. Persson says his government will implement the law to close the reactor by December 1. The second reactor must be closed within three years -- if enough replacement power is available. Persson's statement on the future role of wind power was widely quoted by the press and broadcast media. The two reactors at Barsebäck produce some 8-10 TWh a year when they are technically available. To replace them would require some 3000-4000 MW of wind power capacity. Most of this will be offshore and the state will stimulate it by supporting technical development, Persson said. His speech was well timed. Parliament must soon agree the economic and regulatory framework for the wind market over the coming years. Persson's words were also a welcome signal to local and regional planning authorities that they should get behind wind development. Industry observers remain cynical about Persson's commitment, however. It will take the closure of Barsebäck 1 this month to convince them it is to be relied upon.

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