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« Last California Plant to Close as Nuclear Power Struggles | Main | Uranium prices set to double by 2018 »

Sweden decides it’s not so easy to give up nuclear power

World Nuclear Association

Nuclear power has been falling out of favor in Europe ever since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Italy has closed all its reactors. Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland are in the midst of retiring their fleets. Even France, which gets 77 percent of its electricity from nuclear, has been discussing a partial phaseout.

Yet for a continent that prides itself on being a leader on global warming, shutting down a major source of reliable, carbon-free electricity isn’t always easy. And Sweden is a great case study here.

Until recently, Sweden's nuclear reactors — which provide 40 percent of the nation's electricity — were on track to close prematurely in the coming years, as government policies favored renewables. But last week, the country switched course. Under a new agreement, Sweden will get rid of a key tax that had been hurting nuclear, allowing existing reactors to keep running for longer. The country’s utilities will also now be permitted to build up to 10 new reactors to replace those scheduled to retire. (Though whether they actually do is an open question.)

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There will be a few other countries that will soon realize that they too need nuclear power..

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