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Sweden makes U-turn on nuclear power

CHANGING CLIMATE, CHANGING LIVES

Faced with global warming, the argument across Europe goes, the energy source may be the lesser of two evils.

December 20, 2009|By Henry Chu

"It's basically luck that we did not have a very serious accident," Tillman said. "I don't think anyone sees nuclear as a true sustainable power source. It's just something we need to have in between."

The choice set up by some politicians -- nuclear power versus more carbon emissions -- is a false one, Tillman said. Sweden has virtually eliminated the use of fossil fuels for electricity; nuclear energy, hydropower and, to a smaller extent, wind power account for the entire power supply.

Fossil fuels do contribute to heating, but only about 10%, and that is supposed to be eased out by 2020, Altera said. No one is seriously advocating the construction of coal-fired plants.

Environmentalists say that if any country should be exploiting the potential of renewable energy, it's Sweden.

Blessed with rivers for hydropower, plenty of gusty areas for harnessing the wind and vast expanses of forest for biomass, Sweden could gradually close down its nuclear plants and make up for their loss purely through alternative energy sources, activists say.

That, along with increased investment in improving energy efficiency, would make a nuclear-free Sweden an achievable goal.

"We have potential for producing large amounts of renewable energy which can't be produced anywhere else," said Bolund, the member of parliament. "Right now, we have to decide what energy future we want in Sweden, whether we want to be dependent on nuclear power or use the fantastic potential for renewable power we have."

henry.chu@latimes.com

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