Sweden - Growth to slow after surging in previous years

SWEDEN: Despite plenty of natural resources, in the near future Sweden's wind market is facing a slow-down as the price of green certificates, which wind energy producers can sell to electricity suppliers, falls.

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At the end of 2012, this support scheme had prompted a surge in wind farm proposals. The state-owned operator of Sweden's electricity grid, Svenska Kraftnat, says that applications for 20GW in new wind capacity had been received, with more expected.

This is equivalent to almost 75% of the country's maximum power requirements. Svenska Kraftnat estimates that if all this new wind capacity were to come online, wind energy would alone deliver 140% of Sweden's total electricity demand.

sweden capacity pieWhile 2012 saw 846MW of capacity added, this year is not expected to be as good — with 500MW in new installations expected.

David Williams, senior consultant in the strategy and policy unit at GL Garrad Hassan, is philosophical. "This could mean the system is working as intended, he says. "The market is rebalancing itself away from an oversupply towards a realistic goal."

The offshore market is muted because the support mechanism is not banded, so there is no differentiated support for offshore wind. No new capacity was added in 2012, remaining at 163MW.

If transmission system operators pay for transmission to shore and install new cables, there are a "couple of projects that could be viable but nothing significant," Williams says. There are fears that unless the Swedish government incentivises offshore wind, the majority of projects that have been granted development concessions and permitting risk being abandoned.

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