Reuters is reporting today (Dec. 1, 17) that Sweden will need an additional 2.6GW of power generation capacity by 2040 if production capacity is to keep up with demand. This is due, largely in part, to the planned shutdown of some of Sweden’s nuclear plants.
Germany, too, has been faced with a daunting task of providing energy during their total transition away from nuclear power which was sped up after the 2011 nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan. Germany’s rather unfortunate solution has been to restart, and even construct new coal-fired power plants; significantly increasing Germany’s carbon footprint.
Sweden and Germany are not alone. Already mentioned, Japan has had to take drastic measures in power supply to be able to maintain a relatively stable network since most of its nuclear power plants remain offline.
Using renewables may seem like a great idea to help combat the gaps left by nuclear, but there isn’t enough capacity in place to provide a full replacement. What’s more, many sources of renewable energy are weather-dependent or dependent on other uncontrollable environmental factors.
While individual countries alone assess their power needs and make the decisions on the future of nuclear energy, they are often not alone in solving the problems faced by decommissioning. Efforts have been underway for many years already to connect grids with one another, creating a continent-wide super-grid capable of making the most use of available (renewable) power resources. With sufficient interconnection Sweden would be able to benefit from a solar power plant in Spain, or wind farms closer to home in Denmark and Germany, when their plants are able to produce more than can immediately be consumed domestically.
In short, though there is a looming shortfall which we cannot deny; there is a will and a means to help mitigate the effects and help boost renewable energy production.