Sweden’s Ringhals 4 nuclear outage extends into winter months


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OSLO — Swedish utility Vattenfall said on Tuesday it had delayed the restart of the Ringhals 4 nuclear reactor by two months to Jan. 31, in a further setback to power supply in the Nordic and Baltic region.

“The unforeseen required repairs are taking more time than expected, before starting up the unit after the yearly maintenance,” Vattenfall said in a regulatory filing.

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The extended outage comes at a critical time as energy prices soar across Europe and countries scramble to ensure there is enough power output for the coming winter.

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“This worsens an already difficult power situation in southern Sweden,” power market analyst Tor Reier Lilleholt at Norway’s Volue said.

The outage in southern Sweden could also put pressure on prices in neighboring countries, he said.

“If we have a cold winter, this could lead to extreme effects in the market as it would be difficult to replace this power,” Lilleholt said.

Vattenfall had already extended ongoing maintenance at Ringhals 4, which has an installed capacity of 1,130 (MW) by three months at the end of August citing damages to a key component during testing.

The damage to the reactor’s pressure vessel, a radioactive component, means that Ringhals must now build a full-size mock-up of the 12-meter (39 feet) tall structure for training before repairs can take place.

By doing so, Ringhals can qualify work methods, components and special tools that will need to be produced for cleaning the pressure vessel and installing new spare parts, the operator said.

“All available resources are applied to get Ringhals 4 back in operation,” Ringhals Chief Executive Bjorn Linde said in a statement. (Reporting by Nora Buli in Oslo and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, editing by Terje Solsvik and Louise Heavens)


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