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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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ELECTRICITY

Swedish energy giant seeks German plant sale

Vattenfall has announced it wants to sell German brown coal plants and mines. The Swedish state owned firm has described the sites as a "burden" for the company, which has recently experienced huge losses.

Swedish energy giant seeks German plant sale
A brown oil Vattenfall site in east Germany. Photo: TT
One of Europe's largest generators of electricity, Vattenfall said it wanted to focus more on greener energy sources instead of brown coal, also known as lignite.
 
"Brown coal sites are a burden for the company," Chairman Lars G Nordström said when questioned by a Swedish parliamentary constitution committee (konstitutionsutskottet) on Wednesday.
 
He added that the political situation in Germany – which is moving away from both coal and nuclear power – was so "uncertain" that it was unwise to plan to open any new pits.
 
According to Nordström, selling existing plants is also necessary to ensure the company can achieve its emissions targets by 2020.
 
His comments echo those in the firm's annual report for 2014, which was released at the end of last month.
 
"To accelerate the transformation towards more renewables, Vattenfall has decided to look into the prospects of finding new owners for its lignite operations in Germany," the company said in a press release on March 25th.
 
The Swedish owned energy firm has operations in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Finland and last year announced high losses amid tough conditions for the European utilities sector.
 
Last month the company warned it could face asset write-downs of around eight billion kronor ($942m) as electricity prices continue to tumble across the globe.
 
Prices fell last year by an average of 22 percent in the Nordic countries and by 13 percent in Germany.
 
Vattenfall will need to secure parliamentary approval before it can move to sell the brown coal sites in Germany.
 
The company's renewable energy projects include the Sandbank offshore wind farm in Germany and another two land-based wind farms in Sweden.
 
In the UK, Vattenfall is the second largest generator of offshore wind power.