Renewable Energy Cornerstone of the New Swedish Energy Policy


by M Rydehell, Sweden


'On a Sustainable Energy Supply' is the title of a Bill passed in the Swedish parliament early in 1997. It points out the future direction for Swedish policies in the area of electricity supply, where energy efficiency and renewable energy are key factors. Renewable energy plays a major role in the Swedish energy supply today and will increase in importance with this new policy. Combined heat and power from biofuels and wind energy will help the Swedish government to phase out nuclear power.


Recent Trends

The supply of energy in Sweden has been stable for the last 25 years; however, the energy mix has changed. The share of oil in the energy supply has decreased from 77% in 1970 to just over 40% at the beginning of the 1990s. Over the same period of time, electricity use increased from 10% to around 30%. The use of biofuels doubled over the period, and accounted for some
18% in 1995. Electricity production increased from 60 to 143 TWh from 1970 to 1995 (93% from hydro-power and nuclear). Energy supply in 1995 from the various sources is shown in figure 1.


Waste gasification plant in Italy using Swedish technology

Energy consumption has also undergone considerable changes, with transition from oil to electricity in the residential and service sector, as well as in industry and the district heating system as the most obvious examples. Transition from oil to biofuels is another example. Electricity use has increased by an average of 3% annually since 1970. In the beginning of the 1980s, the increase was 7 10% annually. The use of energy in Sweden in 1995 is divided as shown in figure 2.


Figure 1: Energy supply


Figure 2: Energy use

Specific energy consumption in industry is expected to decrease by around 1.5% annually. However, industry's total electricity consumption is expected to increase as a result of increased industrial production. Electricity consumption in buildings and premises is expected to remain more or less unchanged in the year 2010 as compared with the present.

Swedish emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the energy sector decreased substantially during the 1970s and 80s. After a small increase at the beginning of the 1990s, CO2 emissions in 1995 were once again at their 1990 level. Emissions from the transport sector make up an increasing share of total emissions. The forecasts of the Energy Commission point towards increased CO2 emissions by around 20% until the year 2010, as compared with the 1995 level, assuming an annual growth rate of just over 2%, a rate of increase in electricity consumption of just over 1% per annum and assuming that all nuclear reactors remain in operation. Such a development for CO2 emissions is not compatible with an ecologically and economically sustainable energy system, and thus must be halted. The new energy programme provides for substantial investments in research and development of new energy technologies, relating both to production and use of energy.


The New Policy

The objectives of the Swedish energy policy are to:

  • secure the short- and long-term electricity supply, as well as supply of other energy;
  • create conditions for efficient energy use and a cost-efficient energy supply with low negative impact on health, the environment and the climate;
  • create stable conditions for a competitive business sector;
  • phase out nuclear power as anelectricity producing source in such a way that industrial competitiveness is ensured and, in the long-term, replace it with renewable energy.

Electricity supply in Sweden should be based preferably on indigenous and renewable energy sources. Nuclear power should thus be replaced by renewable energy, and fossil fuels should be kept at a low level. The existing natural gas network in the south west of Sweden should be utilised as efficiently as possible.


The New Energy Programme

The first two nuclear reactors (the Barsebäck-reactors close to Denmark) will be taken out of service in July 1998 and July 2001, respectively. This implies a reduction in production capacity of between 6 and 8 TWh.

Thus, the Swedish energy programme includes measures aimed at decreasing the consumption of electricity for heating purposes; utilising the existing electricity system more efficiently; and increasing the supply of electricity and heating from renewable sources of energy.

Investment support will be granted over a five-year period. Support for research and development will be increased over the next seven years, with emphasis on renewable energy and efficient energy technologies.

The total budget for the programme is around SEK 9 billion (where SEK is the Swedish krona). In addition to this energy programme, the Ministry of Environment has started a three year, SEK 5.4 billion, programme to promote a change towards ecologically sustainable development. Energy is a key factor, and the municipalities will be the driving forces.

A combination of measures are being taken to reduce electricity consumption, increase production and use energy more efficiently.

  • Reducing consumption
    The target is to reduce annual electricity demand by 1.5 TWh over the next five years. Support is given for:
    --installation of complementary energy supply in single-family houses, like woodstoves and stoves for pellets, including output monitors (grant of SEK 10,000 per single-family house);
    --installation of hydronic or water-borne heating systems (30% of the investment costs);
    --conversion to district heating.
  • Increasing electricity production
    The target is to add 1.5 TWh from renewable energy over the next five years.
    Investment support will be given to help achieve this:

          Procurement of new electricity generating technologies will also be supported.

  • Energy efficiency
    State-administered work is being carried out to increase knowledge about and stimulate interest in energy efficiency. A total of
    SEK 450 million are assigned over a five-year period to the procurement of energy efficient technologies, as well as information, training, municipal advisory services and testing, labelling and certification of equipment.

    R&D funding
    Energy research at universities in combination with industrial development schemes, and demonstration activities, will be supported to facilitate conversion from fossil fuels and nuclear power to renewable energy and ecologically and economically sustainable development.
    The R&D programme runs over seven years with a total budget
    of SEK 5,070 million, and comprises:
    --basic research on energy technologies and energy systems;
    --research co-operation with Eastern Europe;
    --energy technology development through the Energy Technology Fund;
    --demonstration of innovative energy technologies.


In summary, the Swedish government has put forward a programme focusing on reduction of electricity used for heating purposes and increased utilisation of renewable energy. The total budget is over SEK 9 billion. Funding for market introduction of new technologies, together with increased R&D funding will help form the future in a sustainable manner.

For more information contact the CADDET Swedish National Team in Stockholm.

The CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter is a quarterly magazine published by the CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy at ETSU, UK.

The articles published in the Newsletter reflect the opinions of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official view of CADDET.

Enquiries concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to
Pauline Toole, Editor, CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1235 432968, Fax: +44 1235 433595.