Record rains dampened Swedish electricity cost

Statistics show that 2012 was one of the wettest year since records began, which spoiled many a Swede's summer but also contributed to keeping down electricity prices.

Record rains dampened Swedish electricity cost

The national average precipitation for 2012 clocks in at 790 millimetres, a rain record only beaten by 1998 and 2000 since the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) began keeping records in 1860.

The wet summer takes most of the credit. The towns of Linköping, Västerås and Piteå all broke their local rain records.

“What happened was that a high pressure weather system over southern Europe made low pressure weather travel up towards us,” meteorologist Lisa Frost told the TT news agency.

But while many Swedes were unhappy at seeing their summer holidays rain away, there was one discernible advantage. The reservoirs were filled up.

Sweden generates much of its power from hydroelectric dams.

Only once before have Sweden’s dams produced more energy than they did in the past year, Swedenergy (Svensk Energi), the industry’s umbrella organisation, said in a statement.

“We’ll be able to call this a record year when we sum up the electricity year,” said Folke Sjöbohm, power systems head at Swednergy.

He told TT that Sweden’s electricity production should clock in at 160 terrawatt hours for 2012.

“Most of it from the hydroelectric dams.”

However, Sjöbohm also pointed to figures that electricity generation from wind turbines increased this year, as it has done most years, in addition to Sweden’s nuclear reactor fleet experiencing less disruption than in 2011.

“We reached 60 terawatt hours this year and it’s been many years since Swedish nuclear energy performed that well,” Sjöbohm said.

Swedish power company Vattenfall said that average electricity prices, both for customers on one-year and three-year contracts, were the lowest since 2005.

TT/The Local/at

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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.