The reactor owners’ development programme (RD&D)

Every third year, owners of nuclear power plants in Sweden are required to demonstrate progress in their work relating to spent nuclear fuel, nuclear waste and decommissioning of their reactors. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority reviews this programme: the licensees' RD&D programme. ‘RD&D’ stands for Research, Development and Demonstration.

The licensees of nuclear power reactors in Sweden must present their joint RD&D programme to demonstrate continual development of their methods and research work relating to management of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The following must be accounted for and presented in each RD&D programme:

  • The approach of the reactor owners to research and development work; also, how they demonstrate technologies and techniques needed for safe management of spent fuel and nuclear waste
  • What they have achieved over the past three years
  • How they plan to improve their work
  • A plan for decommissioning the nuclear power plants in the future
  • A detailed schedule of their planned tasks over the next six years.

The requirements for the RD&D programme are regulated by the Act on Nuclear Activities.

Technological and social sciences aspects

Each RD&D programme covers technological and social sciences aspects. Over the years, the programmes have covered areas such as the utilities' work on different methods for final disposal and forms of cooperation with possible municipalities for siting of a geological repository.

The reactor owners also conduct ongoing demonstrations of future work on the repository system. These demonstrations are for example conducted in an underground rock laboratory located north of Oskarshamn. Here it is possible to practice different technologies and techniques for boring of tunnels at the same large scale as for the planned repository.

The Government takes the decision on each RD&D programme

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority reviews the RD&D programme to assess whether the areas are thoroughly presented. The Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (i.e. SKB) compiles the programme on behalf of the respective licensees. In September 2019, SKB submitted its latest presentation of the programme to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. In March 2020, the Authority will submit its statement of views on RD&D Programme 2019 to the Swedish Government.

The Government subsequently decides whether the licensees have conducted the RD&D programme in compliance with requirements. As necessary, the Government also issues conditions for their continued work on research and development.