Waterfalls accused of being Europe's worst nuclear power companies


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Sunday, 19 June 2011
Vattenfall is Europe's worst nuclear power companies when it comes to efficient utilisation of the reactors tp generate the optimal energy.

There exist very big differences between nuclear power companies in Europe. The figures from the UN agency, IAEA, show this phenomenon. But it was expected that a country like Sweden would have some of the best companies in this domain given its technological prowess – or sort of. Again one would expect that a company owned by the government would lead the way in implementing best practice models that will exhibit efficiency, quality and cost management. It turns out that Vattenfall is not in that league.

Swedish television news program, Rapport, has gone through all the 27 operators who have operational responsibility for the European nuclear power plants. One company stands out: Swedish state-owned Vattenfall. For Vattenfall's nine reactors in Sweden and Germany, there has just been 55 percent utilisation of its capacity over the past two years.

Speaking of direct comparison, Finnish TVO comes out as the best as its reactors run continuously over the year except for brief outages during the summer period. This means that capacity utlisation is a staggering 94 percent.


Vattenfall CEO �ystein L�seth is aware of the problem: “I have these numbers. And we have only one goal on for Waterfall. And it is for us to get better.”

Vattenfall is far behind its competitors. The second worst is the British Magnox operator that operates a number of aging nuclear power plants and can still squeeze 64 percent effeicicy out of them. This is followed by British Energy, German RWE and French EDF, each with over 70 percent efficient of capacity utlisation from their reactors.

“It's quite clear that our operatorship was not satisfactory,” says Vattenfall's CEO �ystein L�seth to Swedish televsion.

The explanation for the poor figures for Vattenfall is that the company in 2009 and 2010 sought to modernize nuclear power plants at Forsmark and Ringshals, the project has dragged on and that led to record-high electricity prices in Sweden.

The biggest problems, however, Vattenfall had has been in Germany, where the reactors at Kr�mmel and Brunsb�ttel stood still for nearly four years.
According to one of Sweden's foremost nuclear experts, there is one common denominator behind the problems in both Germany and Sweden:
“I believe that the management has paid too little focus on operational issues. There have been other issues that were important for Vattenfall such as finance, marketing and expansion. It seems that no one really tried to ensure that the plants have been maintained properly,” says Lars G Larsson, who has worked as a consultant for Vattenfall for many years.

The top management at Vattenfall has seen the problems and appointed new managers with the goal to get much nuclear power out of the plants.

In Germany, Vattenfall has even given up and wanted to hand over operational responsibility for Kr�mmel to the German giant E. ON. “There have been some unfortunate circumstances in Germany and it has led us to fall in a vicious spiral,” says Vattenfall's CEO �ystein L�seth who also adds that “we have to find other solutions”.

But before Vattenfall agrees with E-On, the German government wants to close down Brunsb�ttel and Kr�mmel for good, a decision that will cost billions for state owned Vaterfall.
By Team

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