Perhaps to silence its critics, Sweden simultaneously promised it would raise carbon taxes, and reduce carbon emissions 40 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2020, also in industries not covered by the EU's emissions trading scheme - continuing toward the supposed goal of "oil independence" and zero emissions by 2050. In a kind of humorous side note, the country will also up its share of energy from renewables, from the EU mandated 49% to a nice round 50%, also by 2020.Politically expedient, but also popular
In a 1980 referendum, the majority of Swedes called for phasing-out nuclear, but ever since then each government has hemmed and hawed without actually closing many reactors (of 12 total reactors, 2 have been closed). Now the tides of public opinion have turned, and a majority favors keeping nuclear, which is considered to be a cleaner and less carbon intensive energy source than coal or gas. Swedes also believe that their reactors are safe, and their waste management superior. Some scary near accidents at Swedish reactors within the last two years didn't even raise many eyebrows.
There are some political reasons why now is the time the Swedish government has made a stand. Sweden will assume the EU presidency this fall and needed to have a coherent energy policy among the four-party center-right Alliance currently in power. That's the first step to getting a national energy policy together (due to the EU in 2010) describing how Sweden will meet the 49% renewables goals by 2020 mandated by the EU Renewable Directive.
And strangely enough, some within the wind and alternative energy camps say Sweden had to get to the point to decide to keep nuclear so that it could get past the question mentally and go on to other things - like how to develop 20 TWh of wind onshore and as much as 10 TWh offshore. Others are worried that if Swedish industry decamps to the nuclear bandwagon, wind won't have a chance. But Fredrik Dahlström of the Swedish Energy Agency put it like this:
"The nuclear question effects all our energy decisions. In Sweden it's always wind against nuclear. Wind can't replace nuclear - it's 65 TWh that we can't just do without. However, if we want to build CO2-free going forward we also need wind. Taking the middle road...that would be such a relief."
There also, thankfully, is one small kicker: Sweden says it won't pay for new nuclear development. Could they possibly be looking at Finland's ill-fated Okiluoto nuclear project - years behind schedule and 60% over budget? Via: The Local
Read more about Sweden's energy dilemma
Sweden Swapping Efficiency for Security?
Sweden Again Meets Renewable Energy Target
Sweden THINKing Harder About Wind-Driven Car Fleet