This is how Sweden’s electricity system is being challenged – the differences in the country are great


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More people drive electric cars, smart gadgets in the home need electricity around the clock and we need server halls that store data and enable digitization. On top of this, we will be climate neutral by the year 2045 – without an overall plan for how the equation should go together.

The regional differences in the energy balance are large already today and will increase further. When the power shortage now begins to become a fact in several places in Sweden, the question of who is responsible for the long-term electricity supply will need to be sorted out.

In 2017, the Riksdag decided that Sweden should become climate neutral by 2045. To get there, society needs to be electrified, a transformation that will place high demands on the Swedish electricity system. The energy transition that awaits also places demands on both decision-makers and the entire industry. Against this background, the analysis and technology consulting company WSP has conducted a review of Sweden’s conditions and put together the results in the report: Deficiencies, decisions and balance in the electricity system – so the equation can go together. The results show that the shortcomings in the electricity supply will become apparent in more places in the future. A substantial increase in wind power and new storage technology is expected to be the solution, but first the issue of responsibility needs to be sorted out.

– Who should actually make the decision to invest in a server hall when it affects the future expansion of a hospital in a nearby region, for example? Or who is responsible for the citizens of a municipality having a reliable electricity supply when a large electricity production unit is shut down? At present, the responsibility is spread over many different actors and authorities and that makes the transition very vulnerable, says Anna Nordling, energy expert at WSP.

The industry in Sweden is expected to increase its electricity use by 2045 by between 60 and 100 percent and the transport sector by as much as 600 percent. This at the same time as Svenska Kraftnät estimates that in 2040 there may be a shortage of electricity in two of Sweden’s four electricity areas on average 400 hours per year. There are solutions to this, but it is urgent. With weather-dependent energy sources, requirements are needed for new solutions for storing electricity, where hydrogen and batteries are predicted to be the primary technologies. It will also require increased transmission capacity between different electricity areas in Sweden and a clarity in what the future production will look like in order for the electricity network to be adapted in time.

Read more: The green transition – time to go from planning to action

– What is needed now is increased cooperation between politicians and other actors, good foresight, new technical solutions and a review of the current market model. We need a greater capacity focus in the market model, where the electricity producer not only gets paid for the electricity that is delivered but also to a greater extent for the available capacity that is made available. These points are necessary if we are to cope with the shift to renewable electricity production at the same time as the need for electricity increases every day, says Anna Nordling.

The Swedish electricity system will undergo major changes during 2021-2045 and right now lots of resources, time and energy are being invested in coming up with solutions for how we can develop and adjust our electricity system in time. During the journey, we will end up in difficult situations where the question of responsibility will be asked at its peak. We are facing major challenges. Lack of capacity in lines and networks, large regional differences when it comes to price, supply and need, slow permit processes, lack of trained personnel and we must find ways to solve the power problem, for example through storage.

– The energy equation can be solved but important decisions need to be made and quickly. With the report, we want to give decision-makers and the market a good knowledge base about future production, market model and division of responsibilities, but also a review of what it looks like around Sweden. The future will offer many difficult decisions nationally, but also locally, concludes Anna Nordling.

At wsp.com you can read more and see how things are in your municipality

Download the report

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