updated: 07-02-2023 | 15:23
Prominent names such as Lars Rebien Sørensen, chairman of the board of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Mads Nipper, CEO of Ørsted are discussing nuclear power in Denmark. It has started a lively debate in Danish publications, which might lead to a society-wide debate in Denmark, which traditionally has been a staunch opponent of nuclear power.
Sørensen is chairman of the board of the world's third largest fund, which has more than $100 billion at its disposal. To Danish newspaper Berlingske he said: "We are building a safe and stable energy system in Denmark. In my opinion the excessive focus on offshore wind has some worrying and unfortunate effects, which could end up costing both consumers and Danish society immensely". He opens up the possibility that the fund can contribute to speeding up research and investments in nuclear power in Denmark.
Swedish power and small plants
Lars Rebien Sørensen also looks at Sweden, where the Swedish government has announced plans to increase the production of nuclear power. "What if an agreement was made with the Swedes that we would like to help finance the renovation of their nuclear plants, in return for us getting some more power. That way you build on something you know can work".
He also talks about new forms of nuclear power currently under development, such as the two Danish nuclear power startups Copenhagen Atomics and Seaborg. These companies are working on developing modular and scalable nuclear power plants with liquid salt reactors, which cannot melt down in the same way as happened at the Fukushima plant in Japan. In the event of an accident the liquid salt in the reactor can be carried away in a safety basin, whereby the processes are stopped completely.
Ørsted's CEO Mads Nipper also leaves a door open for nuclear power. Nipper said that state-owned Ørsted might want to invest in nuclear power on Danish soil in the future. “My argument is that at the same time as investing in new, innovative nuclear technologies - who knows, maybe one day we could also mess with it”. But he also stresses it must not take the focus away from offshore wind and energy islands.
Staunch opponent of nuclear power
Denmark is known for being one of the absolute most staunch opponents of nuclear power in the world. It even has a law from 1985 prohibiting power production from nuclear energy in Denmark. The announcements from the top CEO's might open a wider discussion in the Nordic country. An opinion poll from October last year showed that for the first time supporters (46%) outnumbered the opponents (39%) of building new nuclear power plants in Denmark.
However, last autumn a number of Denmark's leading energy researchers presented a compilation of knowledge and facts in a report on nuclear power. Here it was concluded that nuclear power plants take at least twice as long to build as solar or wind farms, just as the price of electricity from nuclear power is twice as high.