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Demand for Big Nukes Rises in US // Sweden Doubles Down on Nuclear Energy

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: Westinghouse’s CEO alludes to potential new AP1000 builds in America, Sweden expands its commitment to nuclear energy, and more.

Demand for Big Nukes Rises in US

Many thought that the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia might be the last we see of new AP1000 (1.1 GW) reactor builds. Southern’s commitment to the new reactors at Vogtle helped push the utility through massive delays and budget increases. Few believed any other utilities would have the stomach for such a big project.

But the CEO of Westinghouse, Patrick Fragman, says American utilities are interested in their own AP1000s.

“There are some American utilities which are very seriously talking with us about new AP1000s,” Chief Executive Officer Patrick Fragman said in a piece carried by Bloomberg. Fragman didn’t name the interested companies.

If Westinghouse can ink more domestic deals for AP1000s, then it should be able to capitalize on the economies of repetition that drive down costs and shorten construction timelines.

Sweden Doubles Down on Nuclear Energy

Ringals NPP

This week, Sweden’s parliament passed a new bill that will expand the amount of nuclear reactors the country can build. The previous cap on reactors was ten.

“The new law will also allow construction of nuclear reactors at sites other than the current plants - Ringhals, Forsmark and Oskarshamn - where Sweden's fleet of six reactors is located,” reports Reuters.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government put forward the policy to build two new conventional reactors by 2035. Expanding nuclear power generation is a vital strategy to shore up Sweden’s reliability issues. After closing several nuclear power plants due to a referendum to get rid of nuclear, Sweden’s grid found itself overly reliant on intermittent renewable energy.

"The Riksdag shares the government's assessment that fossil-free nuclear power will continue to play a central role in the Swedish energy mix," the parliament said in a statement. "The main reasons for this are an expected greater demand for electricity in combination with the need to phase out fossil fuels, not least for climate reasons.”

Although the country lost half of its nuclear fleet to the aforementioned referendum, Sweden’s recent pro-nuclear turn marks another departure from the post-1970’s anti-nuclear orthodoxy in the West. The energy crisis triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war helped turn the tide towards the atom.

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