Study on a hypothetical replacement of nuclear electricity by wind power in Sweden

  • F. Wagner
  • E. Rachlew
Regular Article

DOI: 10.1140/epjp/i2016-16173-8

Cite this article as:
Wagner, F. & Rachlew, E. Eur. Phys. J. Plus (2016) 131: 173. doi:10.1140/epjp/i2016-16173-8
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Focus Point on the Transition to Sustainable Energy Systems


The Swedish electricity supply system benefits strongly from the natural conditions which allow a high share of hydroelectricity. A complete supply is, however, not possible. Up to now, nuclear power is the other workhorse to serve the country with electricity. Thus, electricity production of Sweden is basically CO2 -free and Sweden has reached an environmental status which others in Europe plan to reach in 2050. Furthermore, there is an efficient exchange within the Nordic countries, Nordpol, which can ease possible capacity problems during dry cold years. In this study we investigate to what extent and with what consequences the base load supply of nuclear power can be replaced by intermittent wind power. Such a scenario leads unavoidably to high wind power installations. It is shown that hydroelectricity cannot completely smooth out the fluctuations of wind power and an additional back-up system using fossil fuel is necessary. From the operational dynamics, this system has to be based on gas. The back-up system cannot be replaced by a storage using surplus electricity from wind power. The surplus is too little. To overcome this, further strong extension of wind power is necessary which leads, however, to a reduction of the use of hydroelectricity if the annual consumption is kept constant. In this case one fossil-free energy form is replaced by another, however, more complex one. A mix of wind power at 22.3GW plus a gas based back-up system with 8.6GW producing together 64.8TWh would replace the present infrastructure with 9GW nuclear power producing 63.8TWh electricity. The specific CO2 -emission increases to the double in this case. Pumped storage for the exclusive supply of Sweden does not seem to be a meaningful investment.-1

Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Wagner
    • 1
  • E. Rachlew
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für PlasmaphysikGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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