Sweden - Cheap land helps push wind past target

SWEDEN: Sweden expects to install and commission more than 1GW of onshore wind in 2014, which will bring the country's total wind capacity to about 5.5GW by the end of the year, according to Swedish wind association Svensk Vindenergi.

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The country added 726MW last year, all but 49MW onshore, which is slightly down on 2012 (846MW) and 2011 (754MW), but by less in percentage terms than most European nations have experienced. At the end of 2013 Sweden had a cumulative wind capacity of 4.47GW, 212MW of which is offshore.

That leaves it just 77MW short of reaching its 2020 National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) wind target, seven years ahead of schedule. Few other countries in Europe can say the same.

Pushing on

"This does not reduce motivation (for future growth in wind)," says Svensk Vindenergi. "NREAP was basically an estimate, there is no national wind target." Indeed, wind is still a small player in terms of Sweden's total electricity generation. The 9.3TWh produced by wind in 2013 accounted for only 7% of the country's electricity generation.

The big providers remain nuclear (47%) and hydro (45%). However, Sweden anticipates wind to be providing 20TWh by the end of the decade.

"Sweden (and Norway) are attractive because of good wind conditions of around 3,000 full load hours per year," says Torsten Amelung, managing director of Norwegian-owned Statkraft Markets.

"Land prices are not high, which means land leases are inexpensive. And turbine prices have fallen, so projects are economically viable with low subsidies. The average size of wind farms in Sweden is bigger than in Germany or the UK."

Current political backdrop The Swedish-Norwegian electricity certificate market for supporting renewables expansion is opaque, with rules differing between the two countries

High point of 2013 Grid company Svenska Kraftnat announced new transmission projects to help wind expansion

Low point The energy committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences claimed in late 2013 that there is "too much wind energy in Sweden"

Key influencer Anna-Karin Hatt, IT and energy minister

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