Sweden’s decision to reverse the phase-out of its nuclear power and instead explore building new nuclear reactors as part of a robust low-carbon energy mix has been cited as an example for Scotland’s future energy needs by Martin Whitfield MSP.
The South Scotland MSP highlighted Sweden’s policy in a question to Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, at today’s Portfolio Questions at Holyrood.
He also pointed out that Sweden’s energy production is currently considerably cleaner than Scotland’s and that its electricity sector carbon emissions are among the lowest in the EU.
Mr Whitfield went on to urge the Cabinet Secretary to revisit the Scottish Government’s opposition to nuclear power and instead explore how to build on the current baseload it provides as part of our own balanced low-carbon energy mix.
Commenting after his question, Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“The Swedish government’s decision to fully reverse its nuclear phase-out and instead explore expanding its nuclear output in order to help meet its climate targets further exposes the shortcomings of the Scottish Government’s opposition to nuclear power.
“This is just plain bad policy, because nuclear is a key part of our energy production now and has the potential to remain so well into the future. Other nations value its contribution to tackling the climate emergency and rightly view it as an important part of a proper mix and balance of low-carbon energy sources.
“The proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power in Scotland is currently around 30 per cent of our total output. It is reliable baseload production which is critical to our energy security. Additionally, we already have significant knowledge and expertise on nuclear, built up over decades of operating nuclear power stations.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to drop its dogmatic opposition to nuclear and take a fresh look at how it can contribute to our low-carbon energy mix, as well as help sustain important skilled jobs and apprenticeships and support local economies.”
Sweden’s six nuclear power reactors currently produce 40 per cent of its electricity. In 1980 the Swedish government decided to phase out nuclear, but in June 2010 the parliament reversed this policy.
Last year, Sweden’s new coalition government announced plans to expand its nuclear production with the possibility of restarting closed reactors and constructing new ones to be explored as part of plans to make its energy production 100 per cent fossil-free.
Scotland’s last operational nuclear plant, Torness, is scheduled for closure in 2028. The Scottish Government is opposed to the construction of new nuclear facilities, saying they would be expensive to build and take years to come online.
Mr Whitfield’s full question and the Cabinet Secretary’s response can be found here.