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Vattenfall closes reactor unit at its Ringhals nuclear power plant in Sweden

In Sweden, state-owned energy utility major Vattenfall AB has taken the Ringhals 2 nuclear reactor unit off the power grid as part of the planned decommissioning of its Ringhals nuclear power plant.

Vattenfall AB has taken the Ringhals 2 nuclear reactor unit off the power grid as part of the planned decommissioning of its Ringhals nuclear power plant. The decision to close two reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power plant outside Varberg on the Swedish west coast was taken in 2015 (photo courtesy Vattenfall).

The decision to close two reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power plant outside Varberg on the Swedish west coast was taken in 2015. According to the decision, reactor two (Ringhals 2), was to close by the end of 2019, and reactor one (Ringhals 1) in 2020, which means that the reactors will close five years earlier than originally planned.

According to Vattenfall, the closure decision was taken for commercial reasons, and although the price of electricity has recovered since 2015, the assessment is that it would not be possible to continue the operation of either of the two reactors, for both economic and practical reasons.

The final shutdown of Ringhals 2 began back in September 2019, when the plant went into a phase called coast down. This means that the reactor output falls as the energy in the fuel decreases. In November the output fell to below 50 percent and one of the turbines was taken out of operation.

44 years of operation

Ringhals 2 was put into commercial operation in 1975, and ever since then has as Vattenfall puts it “led an eventful life, with both ups and downs.” Among other things, the plant has had its steam generators and control room replaced, survived a fire and had the bottom plate of its reactor containment renovated.

But in spite of causing a certain amount of anxiety, Ringhals 2 has always recovered and, during its 44-year service life, has supplied Sweden with 215 TWh of “fossil-free” nuclear electricity.

On December 30, at 08.56 CET, the second turbine at Ringhals 2 was shut down and disconnected from the power grid. Thus, after 44 years of service, Ringhals 2 has been retired from service. As a whole Ringhals has around 1 260 employees and although Ringhals 2 has been retired from service, the plant needs to be staffed for another few years.

The shift 7 team on duty during the takedown of Vattenfall’s Ringhals 2 reactor from the power grid on December 30, 2019, were Micael Hagsten (left), Jacob Molin, Anton Palmkvist, Ulrika Johansson, Tord Nilsson, Daniel Odéen, Nicklas Johansson, Olle Åberg and Stefan Pihl (photo courtesy Elisabeth Rehn).

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