As Sweden is set to phase out fossil fuels from industry, the topic of renewable versus nuclear grows in importance. Recent developments in the area have impacted the Swedish Government stance – from previously seeing nuclear energy as a priority and taking no steps to encourage wind, to actively encouraging the expansion of wind power.
When the current Swedish government took office in October 2022, the former political energy goal was changed from 100 percent renewable energy to 100 percent fossil-free energy. The impacts of which you can find in our previous article here. Now, the Swedish Minister for Energy and Business Affairs shifts stance and affirms the importance of rapid expansion of wind power.
The shift lies in wind power no longer being seen as standing in opposition to nuclear energy. Nuclear is still important for the long-term energy mix in Sweden. However, wind is now understood as a key supplement to nuclear power to meet increased energy demands from Swedish industry in the short-term thanks to its relative ease for rapid expansion - except for the long permitting processes in Sweden.
Quicker permitting processes for renewables is an overarching goal of the EU as the Council agreed on a common stance for changes to the EU Directive on Renewable Energy. The changes require EU member states to designate areas that are particularly suitable for specific renewable energy technologies as ‘renewable go-to areas’. Such areas must keep permit-granting processes under 3 years, or in some cases such as repowering the process must be under 6 months. Further, renewable go-to areas would limit grounds of legal objection by presuming that renewable energy is an overriding public interest. Thus, ensuring shorter permitting processes and a quick expansion of renewables.
Sweden is on track to see an annual increase of electricity consumption of 6-8 terawatt hours, the equivalent of 300,000 electrically heated houses, and wind will play a key role in meeting demand. The Swedish Government now sees renewable energy sources, including wind, as complementing nuclear to achieve their political energy goal – rather than standing in opposition to one another. While plans for subsidising offshore wind connections were scrapped following the transition of governments, this shift on the view of wind power may see other measures in addition to shorter permitting times.
The Swedish government’s shift in stance is a welcome development. A positive view of wind power nationally, combined with efforts to speed of permitting times from the EU, means that the future of wind power in Sweden is more promising than how it looked in the end of 2022. However, few actions have been made by the Swedish Government so far and it remains to be seen whether these promises result in any material changes.
 Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources
Sep 22 2023