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ELECTRICITY

Companies quizzed over electricity prices

Nearly 100 companies are to be quizzed over the possible breakage of fair competition rules in the electricity market.

The Swedish Competition Authority is investigating whether those companies which own the nation’s nuclear power plants limited the supply of electricity in order to affect the market price.

In order to see if those companies did you use their positions to control the price of electricity, the Competition Authority sent out a letter to about 100 companies in the electricity industry to get a better sense of the situation.

“The purpose with those questions we are now putting forth to a large number of participants is to identify and investigate suspicions about proper management of the market,” said Claes Norgren, spokesman for the Competition Authority.

Among other questions is how owning a company controlling electricity production can affect its ability to act.

The energy industry faced a crisis in 2000 since the price of electricity was too low. The price covered variable costs for the nuclear power stations, but did not cover the costs of maintenance and investment, and was not enough to make the owners happy.

During the year, the nuclear power industry lowered production, leading to a lesser supply of electricity increasing prices.

Responses to the letters are due to be returned before the August 7.

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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