Vattenfall to sell Swedish power grid: report

Swedish state-owned power company Vattenfall wants to sell its Swedish electricity network to bring in funds for investment in nuclear power in Britain, Sweden’s TV4 reports.

Vattenfall to sell Swedish power grid: report

The sale is expected to bring in around 50 billion kronor ($7.3 billion). According to an internal document reviewed by TV4, Vattenfall wants to find a buyer by the end of the year, and close the deal before autumn 2010.

CEO Lars G. Josefsson is said to be the driving force behind the deal, which has prompted protests by other top managers at Vattenfall.

Deputy CEO Hans von Uthman has refused to endorse the deal and is set to lose his job as a result, sources tell TV4, although von Uthman refused to comment on the matter himself.

On Wednesday, the company confirmed in a statement that von Uthman would leave his post at the end of the year. However, spokesperson Mark Vadasz denied that the the move had any connection to the rumoured sale.

“He has not been fired,” Vadasz told the TT news agency on Wednesday.

Around 850,000 households are connected to Vattenfall’s electricity network in Sweden, which includes poles, power lines, cables, and other equipment.

After first refusing to comment on the revelations on Tuesday, Sweden’s industry ministry offered a statement by spokesperson Johanna Martin several hours later.

“We won’t comment as these are questions for the company to answer. More information will be coming shortly from Vattenfall,” she told the TT news agency.

Martin confirmed that the ministry had been in contact with Vattenfall during the evening, although she refused to confirm that the company planned to sell its electricity network.

Around midnight, the company issued a short statement denying it had made a decision to sell the electricity grid. However, the statement made no mention of whether or not the plans existed.

“A company of Vattenfall’s size is always reviewing its assets, but there has been absolutely no decision to sell the network,” company spokesperson Mark Vadasz told TT.

The political opposition was quick to criticize the rumoured sale.

“If the information is true, it’s completely unacceptable. The electricity grid is an important part of the country’s infrastructure and the question must be addressed in the Riksdag,” industrial policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats, Tomas Eneroth, told TT.

On Wednesday, Vattenfall continued to deny the report.

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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.