Sweden closes 45-year old Ringhals 1 nuclear reactor

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The Swedish nuclear unit Ringhals 1 (880 megawatt) will shut permanently on Thursday after 45 years of operation, leaving the Nordic country with six nuclear reactors. Ringhals 1, a boiling water reactor, started operating on Jan. 1 1976.

It will go offline by midnight local time (2300 GMT), data from power exchange Nord Pool shows. At the end of 2019, operator Vattenfall decommissioned reactor 2 (900 MW) at the site. Reactors 3 (1,063 MW) and 4 (1,123 MW) at Ringhals, commissioned in 1981 and 1983 respectively, remain in operation.

Following Thursday’s closure, Swedish nuclear capacity will total 6,861 MW across six reactors, which operators plan to run until around 2040, the Swedish nuclear authority said.

They are scattered across southern Sweden, the more populous part of the country, where electricity consumption is higher. Nuclear power provided around 39% of Sweden’s electricity production in 2019, the same share as hydropower, official data shows.

Based on preliminary data from Swedish statistics office SCB, nuclear power had a 30.17% share of total electricity production for Jan-Oct 2020 and hydropower accounted for 44.66%.

Sweden is divided into four wholesale power market price zones, with prices in the area known as SE3, which is home to the nuclear fleet, averaging 21.19 euros per megawatt hour this year.

This compares with around 14.39 euros/MWh in the two northern price zones, which are dominated by hydro- and wind power but grid bottlenecks are hampering the flow of electricity from north to south, where capacity is constrained even without the closure of Ringhals 1.

Main Photo: Exterior view of the Ringhals nuclear power plant in Varberg, Sweden. EPA-EFE/Björn Larsson Rosvall / TT NEWS AGENCY SWEDEN OUT

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