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POWER

Power firms deny cartel

Sweden's major power companies have denied operating as a cartel at the beginning of the millennium in response to accusations that for many years they have reduced nuclear power production to maintain a higher price.

But sources within Vattenfall have admitted that nuclear power was controlled during 2000 and 2001 when prices were at their lowest.

Björn Karlsson, a professor of energy systems at Linköping University, told TT that he was in possession of internal documents showing the company’s plan to reduce electricity production to keep prices up.

A supply curve on the fax showed that the company was shutting down production when the price was at 18 öre per kilowatt hour when the running costs could have been as low as 3 or 4 öre in a normally competitive market.

During the summer of 2000 the price fell further, to under 10 öre per kilowatt hour, at which point Vattenfall decided to act.

“We judged that we would not get a fair coverage allowance and made a decision to cut back, with the prices as low as they were then,” said Nils Andersson, head of Nordic business development within Vattenfall.

Swedish nuclear power is owned in varying proportions by Vattenfall, Eon and Fortum. But Nils Andersson said there was never any collaboration between the companies regarding the quantities of electricity produced.

“Each company says how much it wants from each power station. Then the people at the power station add up the owners’ requirements and then operate the power station accordingly,” he said.

Björn Karlsson’s interpretation of the supply curve with its 18 öre cut-off was completely wrong, according to Andersson.

“We have also seen such a fax. It’s some inquiry that was carried out somewhere in one of our development companies. But it’s absolutely not something which was part of our production planning,” he said.

ELECTRICITY

Sweden to double wind energy production in next four years

Wind energy is set to double its share of Sweden's power supply over the next four years as a string of giant projects come online.

Sweden to double wind energy production in next four years
The Gabrielsberget wind project in Västerbotten. Photo: Swewind
The contribution of wind energy is scheduled to grow from 17TWh in 2018 to 35 TWh in 2022, taking wind's share from 12 percent to 25 percent of total power produced. 
 
Charlotte Unger, chief executive of the Swedish Wind Energy Association trade body said the pro-renewable policy decisions had been driving growth. 
 
“Sweden has the best regulatory regime for wind power projects from a European perspective, and therefore production costs the least here,” she told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.  “Investors have confidence in wind power in Sweden, and that's because of the policies that exist.” 
 
The largest new wind farm is the giant Markbyygden project outside Piteå, which is expected to supply 10TWh per year as it comes online in stages from this year, making it one of Europe's largest wind farms.  
 
Other major projects are the Överturingen wind farm in Västernorrland, Åskälen in Jämtland, and Valhalla in Gävleborg. 
 
The new farms will make up for the shutdown of two reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power station in 2019 and 2020. 
 
 
Because the majority of the new wind power projects are in the northern counties of Norrland, Västerbotten and Jämtland, the shift will require Sweden's state-owned grid operator Svenska Kraftnät to rapidly improve capacity, especially in central Sweden. 
 
But Niclas Damsgaard, the grid company's senior market strategist, said he believed the company would be able to keep pace with the growth. 
 
“It's going to work, but all this will mean an increase in risk. In an extreme case, some major industrial consumers may not be able to buy as much power as they want, but it's not going to mean difficulties across the country.”  
 
Unger said that if the new production exceeded Sweden's own needs, then the excess could be exported into Europe, reducing the continent's coal use. 
 
Between 2022 and 2040, the Swedish Wind Energy Association hopes to double the amount of wind power produced in  once again, taking it to half of Sweden's total power use.
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