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Sweden

Sweden

GREEN POWER FAVOURED ON PRIVATISED MARKET; Big companies eager to sign up for renewables

A campaign by Sweden's national nature conservation association (SNF) to get nuclear energy replaced with renewables by force of popular demand is already meeting with remarkable success. SNF's green power certification came into effect on January 1 when the Swedish electricity industry was privatised. Six electricity suppliers have been granted certificates and demand for green power from industrial customers is outstripping supply.

The campaign by Sweden's national nature conservation association to get nuclear energy replaced with renewables by force of popular demand is already meeting with remarkable success. Six electricity suppliers in Sweden have applied for and been granted the association's green stamp of accreditation for their power supplies. Others are lining up at the doors of the Naturskyddsföreningen (SNF) for their certificates -- and demand for green power from industrial customers is outstripping supply.

SNF announced its strategy for green power certification last year and it came into effect on January 1 when the Swedish electricity industry was privatised. The aim of the campaign is to help environmentally minded electricity consumers select the right supplier now they are free to pick and choose.

To qualify for SNF's green certification, a supplier has to market electricity produced by renewable sources, which the association classifies as existing (not new) hydro, biomass and wind power.

Of the six utilities now certified, two serve Sweden's largest centres of population, Stockholm and Gothenburg. Customers for their green power have not been hard to find. Several large companies are already specifying green power, including carton manufacturer Tetrapak, huge milk products company Arla and Svenska Bostäder, a housing company. With demand outstripping supply, prices for green electricity have been forced up by SEK 0.01-0.02/kWh and are likely to go up further as demand increases.

Sweden's two biggest utilities, Vattenfall and Sydkraft, initially refused to identify the origins of their electric power and turned their backs on the scheme. But both utilities lost some very large customers as a result. SNF's certification of electricity is an extension of its existing certification of companies. These must follow SNF's environmental rules in their product production to earn the stamp. To retain the certificate in the future -- often a vital sales requirement in a country where consumers look for the SNF stamp before making a purchase -- companies will also have to buy green electricity. Vattenfall and Sydkraft are now busy negotiating with SNF for a certificate of their own to enable them to meet demand for electricity from renewable sources.

So far, companies choosing the green power option are mainly those where the price of electricity has only a marginal effect on the price of their products. SNF, however, is already working on a plan to get the enormously power hungry pulp and paper industry onto the green power bandwagon. Currently, paper produced to SNF's environmental criteria also receives an SNF seal of approval. But this is only valid for five years. When the paper industry applies for new certification, SNF will insist it switches to green electricity.

Meantime, other industries are busy trying to keep one step ahead of SNF. McDonalds, an international chain of fast food restaurants, is busy negotiating to buy all its electricity in Sweden from wind energy.

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