Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

Sweden aims to lift nuclear ban

Barseback power station, Sweden
Sweden's 10 nuclear power station produce half the country's electricity

The Swedish government plans to overturn a nearly 30-year-old decision to phase out nuclear power and lift a ban on building new reactors.

The centre-right government says it wants to allow for new reactors to replace 10 still in operation.

The decision still needs to be approved by parliament. The plan will not receive state funding.

In a 1980 referendum, Swedes voted to phase out nuclear power. But since then only two of 12 reactors have closed.

Leaders of the coalition government say new reactors are needed to help combat climate change and secure the nation's energy supply.

Phase-out 'abolished'

"The phase-out law will be abolished. The ban in the nuclear technology law on new construction will also be abolished," the government said in a statement.

"Authorisations can be granted to successively replace the existing reactors once they reach the end of their economic life spans."

It added: "Swedish electricity production currently stands on only two legs - hydro power and nuclear power. The climate issue is now in the spotlight and nuclear power will therefore remain an important part of Swedish electricity production in the foreseeable future."

The government said no state money would be provided for nuclear projects.

I am doing this for the sake of my children and grandchildren
Maud Olofsson, Centre Party leader

It also called for renewable energies, such as wind power, to be increased to reduce Sweden's vulnerability.

Analysts say public support for nuclear energy in Sweden has grown amid concerns over climate change and the reliability of foreign energy suppliers.

Sweden's 10 reactors supply about 50% of the country's electricity.

If the plan is approved by parliament, Sweden would join a growing list of countries rethinking nuclear power as a source of reliable energy.

Britain, France and Poland are planning new reactors and Finland is currently building Europe's first new atomic plant in over a decade.

The agreement followed a compromise by the Centre Party, a coalition member which has been sceptical towards nuclear power.

"I am doing this for the sake of my children and grandchildren," said Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson said.

"I can live with the fact that nuclear power will be part of our electricity supply system in the foreseeable future."

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