Sweden needs to further add power capacity or face shortages -report

OSLO, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Sweden will need to add a further 2.6 gigawatts (GW) in power generation capacity by 2040 to avoid power shortages after it closes some of its nuclear reactors, according to the country’s grid operator.

Nuclear plants currently generate about 40 percent of Sweden’s total electricity output and the extra power capacity required is equivalent to the needs of about 1.1 million homes.

That would be on top of a multi-gigawatt capacity increase that Sweden is already planning in its wind and solar power generation.

Two nuclear reactors, Ringhals-1 and Ringhals-2, will stop operations by 2020, and a third, Forsmark-1, will reach the end of its designed lifetime by 2040, reducing Sweden’s power generation capacity by a combined 2.7 GW.

“When the nuclear power declines, according to the 2040 scenario, southern Sweden risks experiencing an average power shortage of 400 hours per year,” the grid operator, Svenska Kraftnat, said in a report published on Friday.

While wind power turbines are expected to have a capacity to generate 67 TWh and solar panels another 7 TWh per year in Sweden by 2040, it will not be sufficient to cover the shortage as demand is expected to rise, it added.

Wind and solar power are also weather-dependent, adding to the shortage risk.

So an extra 2.6 GW of flexible power production capacity will be required to fill the gap by 2040, Svenska Kraftnat said.

Part of the shortfall could be supplemented by Hansa PowerBridge, a 700 megawatt electricity interconnector to Germany that Sweden plans to have in place by around the middle of the next decade.

“The increase in trading capacity is also of great importance ... because the closure of Swedish nuclear power is expected to lead to more occasions with a serious risk of power shortage in southern Sweden,” the operator said.

Svenska Kraftnat and its partner, German grid operator 50Hertz, aim to take a final investment decision on the link by 2022.

Sweden’s five other nuclear reactors are expected to be decommissioned by 2045, slashing the country’s power capacity by another 5.5 GW and further increasing the risk of power shortages. (Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Susan Fenton)