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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 02:33 GMT 03:33 UK
Sweden shuts down atomic reactor
Engineer Gunnar Enkvist shuts down Barseback
At midnight on Tuesday, technicians closed Barseback down
Sweden has closed its Barseback 2 nuclear reactor. two years behind schedule, and 25 years after Swedes voted to stop using atomic energy.

Danes celebrated the shutdown, as Barseback lies just across the Baltic Sea from their capital, Copenhagen.

Sweden took the decision to phase out nuclear power in 1980, when anti-nuclear protest was at its peak.

However, concerns about global warming have led many to reconsider the case for nuclear energy.

Although Denmark remains nuclear free, Sweden's northern neighbour Finland is building its fifth nuclear reactor, due to come online in 2009.

The Swedish state company Vattenfall, which runs Barseback, says it will invest SEK8bn ($1.09bn) to build the biggest wind farm in northern Europe.

It hopes it will produce two terawatt hours per year from 2010. Barseback produced double that, and Sweden used 148 terawatts hours last year.

A third of Barseback's 348 employees will keep their jobs for the time being, and the plant will not be knocked down until at least 2020.

Price rises

Recent polls should some 80% of Swedes say they want to keep nuclear power, which covers half of the country's electricity needs.

Barseback nuclear reactor in Sweden
Most Swedes now want to keep nuclear power
The majority of Swedes say they fear they will have to import energy from carbon dioxide-emitting coal and gas power plants elsewhere in Europe, as a result of energy shortages.

There have also been warnings that power costs are on course for sharp rises.

"There is a lack of electricity in the Nordic market and this will only contribute to that," Kalle Lindholm, spokesman for Sweden's power industry group Swedenergy, told Reuters news agency.

But the authorities say measures to increase energy from renewable sources to replace the capacity lost through the closure of Barseback 1 and 2 have been completed.

In the 1980 referendum, people voted on three alternative ways of phasing out nuclear power - the vote gave no option to continue nuclear energy.

As a result, Barseback 1 was closed in 1999.

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19 May 05 |  Science/Nature
France's nuclear option
09 Oct 03 |  Europe

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