Sweden made a sharp turn away from its 29-year ban on new nuclear power plants last week when the government overturned the 1980 law. The Swedish government feels that in order to meet its 2020 goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels it will need the help of nuclear power.
Government ministers will be introducing a bill to parliament in March that will allow new modern nuclear power plants to be built on existing sites. What makes this change of policy significant is that Sweden was one of the pioneers of the global anti-nuclear campaign in the wake of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 in the US.
In 1980, Sweden’s government voted to phase out nuclear reactors, one of the first nations to take serious action on the issue. The Canberra Times reports that Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has stated he doesn’t feel bound by the 1980 referendum because it never specified what kind of power generation would replace its nuclear reactors.
Public sentiment in Sweden seems to have shifted towards a more open attitude concerning nuclear reactors as Swedes become increasingly concerned about energy security and climate change. Sweden currently gets much of its energy from neighbouring Norway. But the bill must still pass through Parliament before any action can begin.