The green electricity certificates programme is a strong force behind encouraging power purchasers to source electricity from renewables. When Norway, with whom Sweden shares a common electricity market, joins the programme, this will increase the market potential for renewable energy but may also force Swedish wind energy producers to compete with "cheap" Norwegian hydro power.
Sweden’s national plan shows wind power capacity growing by almost 240MW a year, reaching 4.5GW by 2020. The growth is mainly from onshore, as very little increase is expected offshore. Swedish offshore capacity reached 164MW by 2009, from five wind farms — and there it has stayed. With no offshore-specific support mechanism proposed, a previous vision of major offshore increases by 2020 seems unlikely.
Overall, Sweden is making steady progress, and is likely to reach its 2020 targets. It has some significant projects in the pipeline, like the 1,101-turbine Markbygden development, which will be one of Europe’s largest wind parks by 2021, and the 265MW Storgrundet offshore park, on which construction may start in 2014.
"It seems the industry is quite happy with the conditions, otherwise the market wouldn’t accelerate. The grid is always a problem, but less so in Sweden than in many countries," says Gunnar Fredriksson, deputy CEO of Swedish wind energy body, Svensk Vindenergi.
Local opposition to onshore and offshore wind turbines, however, is an issue. The Swedish air force argues that turbines interfere with their job and in 2009 municipalities were given the power to block wind farm developments. Another challenge, according to Svensk Vindenergi, is the indirect impact of the economic crisis, which it believes has made investors slightly more cautious about investing in wind projects.