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Cold spell puts Swedish homes in the dark

TT/Christine Demsteader · 6 Jan 2010, 09:39

Published: 06 Jan 2010 09:39 GMT+01:00

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As temperatures plummeted to minus 18 degrees in the capital, Stockholmers decided it was time to turn up the heat.

A resulting power cut which started at 5pm affected around 3,000 homes which were without electricity for up to six hours.

Those worst affected were inhabitants in Dalarö and Ornö, just outside the city, and customers of energy company Vattenfall.

"The power simply became too much for some lines when people turned their radiators up,” said Vattenfall spokesperson Magnus Örvell.

By 11pm electricity had been restored to most homes in the area.

Around 11,500 Fortum customers in central Sweden were also left in the dark on Tuesday evening. In the Stockholm suburb of Täby, 8,209 homes suffered from the power cut.

Engineers worked throughout the night and by Wednesday morning the number was reduced to 600.

”Things break due to an overload when it gets cold,” Fortum engineer Fredrik Beckius told newspaper Expressen. ”We have brought extra people in," he added.

"Should it get colder we will have to deal with the situation."

Story continues below…

Swedes can expect temperatures to plummet even further with weather forecasters predicting minus 40 degrees in Dalarna and minus 20 degrees in Stockholm later in the week.

There were no reports of power trouble in northern Sweden despite the lowest temperature of the season recorded at Hemavan airport in Lappland, which reached 38.8 degrees.

TT/Christine Demsteader (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:32 January 6, 2010 by moaca
hmm, I did not realise so many houses / appartments in Sweden still were being heated electrically? I thought that other forms of heating were more common such as fjärrvärme, vattenkraft värme etc. But do these appartments have an alternative in order to heat the properties? Perhaps a fireplace or something?

Not very funny to be without heating this time of year and under these circumstances. Here in the UK we are currently paralised by the snowfall. We cannot cope with it whatoever but it is not as cold as in Sweden. However, i suspect that this year many elderly will die in their homes again as they simply cannot afford to heat their houses. This because we still have a large amount of electrically heated properties in the UK. Something which to me is completely old fashioned. I mean, there are so many other better alternatives that are not so expenisve. So that is why I am a bit puzzled to read about thousands of homes being affected by powercuts in Stockholm etc.

I actually assumed that in Sweden you were well ahead of us with regards to the heating of houses. One thing to bear in mind, if you ever buy or rent a house ensure it has no electrical heating to rely on as this might not be so reliable in the winter. This goes for both the UK an Sweden. And its in the winter you need to keep warm, innit?
12:27 January 6, 2010 by Rick Methven
10-15 years ago Electricity was cheap and for new houses in new areas Direct El heating (electric fired central heating) was a cheaper alternative to the cost of laying pipes for fjärrvärme.

The increase in Electricity prices has made it more economic to switch to fjärrvärme, but it is still not always available. some people are replacing electric boilers with pellet burners which is a cheaper source of heating.

Over a 10 year period the cheapest form of heating is Bergvärme. It takes about 10 years torecoup the cost of drilling down into the rock to get at the heat source and installation of the pumps etc and the heat exchanger. but after that the annual cost is about a quarter of even fjärrvärme. ( so says my neighbour who has done it. I have fjärrvärme, changed 6 years ago from the origional Oil fired system installed when the house was built 55 years ago
14:00 January 6, 2010 by DaveN
Wood is cheapest. There's plenty of it about, and you're not reliant on some large company that you can't get hold of. And if you have the right system you don't need any electricity to run it, unlike berg, pellets, fjarr etc.

Of course, it means a bit of extra work and inconveience, and no-one wants that these days. Many swedes bang on about how environmentally friendly they are, but are happy just to switch on the electric when it suits.

The teacher at SFI was always on about saving the environment with stupid bulbs, taking the (empty) bus and the like. But she lived in a concrete house and heated by direct electricity.
14:20 January 6, 2010 by dogbasket

Fjärrvärme (district heating) is basically only available to urban communities, and even then the street where you live must be connected to the grid. The system is gradually being expanded, but it takes time and a lot of investment. I personally have bergvärme, but it still needs electricity to keep the pump and heat exchanger going, and it automatically switches on its own heat-production when the temp outside goes below minus 8-9 degrees or so. Swedish houses and apartments are much better insulated than British homes. Triple glazing is standard. Sweden has always had, at least until relatively recently, cheap electricity (as said by Rick Methven above). The socialists were then (as of the early 1990s) pushed by their newly found green friends to substantially raise energy taxes. The result today is that Sweden is designed for cheap electricity but is suffering from exhorbitant socialist/nutty green energy taxes. Miljöpartiet (The Green Party) even wants to close down Sweden's nuclear power plants without having any viable and sustainable alternative. It's good that we're having a really long cold spell at the moment because it will demonstrate to any normal person that Sweden continues to need nuclear power.

I looked at Sky News earlier today and saw that the UK is paralised by snowfall and "icy conditions". Abandoned cars, schools closed, etc. The fundamental problem is tyres. In Sweden, every car-owner has two sets of tyres - winter tyres from November to April and summer tyres for the rest of the year. The difference in roadholding is astounding. The tread is different, the rubber has different warm/cold qualities, and most winter tyres have studs/spikes although some people prefer "friction" tyres, which are more environment-friendly when the winter is relatively mild and don't wear out the road surface like the studded tyres do when there's no snow. But no matter which, people continue to live and get around more or less as normal. Snow-ploughing and gritting etc is also very well organised. My quiet little street outside a small town in southern Sweden was ploughed at 5am this morning by a local farmer working as subcontractor to the municipality.
18:04 January 6, 2010 by Rick Methven
I looked at Sky News earlier today and saw that the UK is paralised by snowfall and "icy conditions"

Just spoke to a Friend in Holland. They have had 15cm snow in 4 hours. Result No trains, no busses. His daughter was on a train with his granddaughter which could not move because of frozen points and now he has had to try and drive 30km to pick her up.

He is of the opinion that Holland follows Sweden closely in most things except when dealing with the weather - then they follow the UK:LOL
19:37 January 6, 2010 by moaca
Tell me about it. I was born in Holland, have lived in Sweden and am currently in the UK. The only positive about this type of weather is that we dont have to go to work as nobody is equipped with proper winter tyres. I know that in Scandinavia everybody uses dubbdäck, but that is not an option here. I do suspect however that if the brits and dutch get proper winters from now on they will want to invest in winter tyres. With regards to the investment of reliable and green energy I know Sweden is far ahead of the UK. I was just surprised that in Stockholm they couldnt cope with the energy demand. This is the one place in Sweden I assumed would be completely sorted out.

I understand that in rural area's people will have to rely on alternative heating sources. Such as pellets brännare or wood. With all that woodlands in Sweden that is a perfect solution if for whatever reason the electricity falls out. Nothing like an old fashioned woodburner, or vedbrännare as you call it. I do love the smell of burnt wood.

The UK has still a long way to go and are trying desperately to upgrade their housing with special grants to change the old boilers, roof insulation, cavity wall instulation and double glazing. But money is tight and people here on average who own a house are more interested in going to the pub then spending money on their houses. Hence the state of many of them. And if you rent a place then it all depends on who your landlord is. There is nearly no regulation so you are never protected. If the landlord doesnt want to upgrade his property to normal standards then tough. Hence we see so many damp, single glazed and uninsulated houses and appartments. But today it felt a little bit like being back in Sweden again with all this snow, happy days :-))
21:15 January 6, 2010 by Rick Methven
"Tell me about it. I was born in Holland, have lived in Sweden and am currently in the UK"

SNAP - sort of

I was Born in the UK, have lived in Holland and now live in Sweden!
15:52 January 7, 2010 by Puffin
Well 'vattenfall' or hydroelectric is also electricity - just produced in a different way

According to the press part of the problem is that a significant percentage of Sweden's nuclear power plants are not operating at full capacity - between 30-50% are closed or running at partial capacity for various reasons
19:31 January 8, 2010 by AstroSphinx.se
Geothermal with Fjärrvärme and three layers of glass (insulated windows) and winter tyres are going to be the best defence against the chill. Either that turn it down (if its electricty) and have your sweater and heavy socks on. :D Obviously there are changes that need to be made even still.

Its nothing new to me in a cold place with a broken heating system and ice on the windows in some place else at -40.

I thought most of the housing standards in these other places would have been changed, but it seems even the UK which could do something better with the standards couldn't even provide 3 layer insulated glass for a client of a friend who imigrated to Scotland from Sweden, and when they found out they couldn't get the glass, the decided to move back to Sweden. *shrugs*
22:51 January 8, 2010 by Viviane Varan
Like I said a long time ago,

the north no offence and I am in Canada should have been a big global refrigerator/wearhouse

for all the goods that have to be stored in dark/cool places,

while we would be living the dolce vita in the south saving time and energy

but instead we have been distroying the south and struggling in the north

we/they whatever, some math at the beginning of the equation

of this industial petro chemical civilasation was flawed

so now we burn the gaz that instead coold make beautyful plastics

and green houses to heat the north.

The whole thing is so retarded I give up

and have you seen the documentary on youtube

" inside the sarcophagus " everybody should see it once

in fact it should be shown in the schools...

did I mention I hate the cold ?
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