Concerns for Vattenfall’s Russian energy deal

State-owned Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has come under fire for its decision to buy Russian nuclear fuels despite the wishes of the EU to minimize the dependency on Russian energy.

Concerns for Vattenfall's Russian energy deal

The news comes as Vattenfall gets set to receive test samples of a new kind of nuclear fuel from Russian energy company Rosatom, reported the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

The fuel is to be tested at the Ringhals nuclear power plant in western Sweden and delivery can begin as early as 2020 if the results are promising, according to Torbjörn Wahlborg, head of Vattenfall’s nuclear power division.

The news has not been well-received around Sweden.

“We think there is a strong security policy aspect to all this, and it appears Vattenfall has not taken this into account,” Peter Hultqvist, chairman of the Parliamentary Defense Committee, told the TT news agency.

He added that he would be putting the matter to Sweden’s Defence Minister Karin Enström, to ascertain whether she considered the developments to be “reasonable”.

“There are examples of when energy has been used as a leverage. We saw this, for example, in Ukraine a number of years ago,” he added.

Rosatom has export licenses for five EU countries, Bulgaria, Finland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and as far as China and India, an export worth an annual $3 billion, wrote TT.

The company has been behind the construction of ten nuclear reactors in Russia alone, with a further 19 planned for outside the country’s borders, including in Iran.

The EU, meanwhile, is aiming to decrease the dependence on gas and oil from Russia.

“Russia uses energy politics as an instrument for foreign and safety policy,” Jakob Hedenskog, researcher at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut – FOI), told SvD.

TT/The Local/og

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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.