Sweden (2013)

Degree of reliance on imported energy: 

Sweden does not produce natural gas. In 2010, it imported all of its requirements, about 1.5 bcm, through the pipeline from Denmark.

Main sources of Energy: 

In 2011 Sweden’s total primary energy supply (TPES) was 48.9 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), a level which has remained fairly stable over the last three decades with a sharp drop in 2009 amid the global financial and economic crisis.

Fossil fuels, oil, coal and natural gas, represented 31.8% of TPES in 2011. Sweden is the IEA member country with the lowest share of fossil fuels in its energy mix (without nuclear).  Nuclear makes a large contribution to the Swedish electricity mix, accounting for 15.9 Mtoe or 40.5% of its electricity generation in 2011.

In 2012, production of electricity broke the record for the largest amount of energy ever produced in one year. Total electricity production rose to 162 TWh, which represented an increase of about 10%, compared to 2011.  Hydro-electric production was responsible for the greatest proportion of the increase, 18.1%, which represented an increase of 12 TWh.  After hydro, wind power had the second largest percentage increase, 18%; which corresponds to an increase in production of 1.1 TWh.  Of all electricity produced, a total of 142.2 TWh were consumed in Sweden.  This represents an increase of about 2% in electricity consumption, compared with 2011.  The high internal production resulted in a net outflow of electricity from Seden of 19.6 TWh, which was more than double the previous year’s net exports, 7.2 TWh.  This part of the Swedish electricity balance was also a record.

Currently Sweden has a high share of renewable energy in the energy mix compared to many other countries. Over 47 % of all energy that is used in Sweden comes from renewable energy sources. This is by far the largest in comparison with other countries in the EU. Hydro power and bio energy are the two main reasons. Today, the heating sector in Sweden - to a large extent district heating - is practically fossil fuel free as a result of the increased use of biomass and heat pumps. The same is true for the electricity sector, where hydro power and nuclear stands for the bulk of the production and wind power is increasing rapidly. The growth in renewable energy and decline in the use of fossil fuels has happened at the same time as the positive development of the Swedish economy. Since 1990, the emissions of greenhouse gases decreased by 15 % while GDP increased by 51 %.



Extent of the network: 

The Swedish electricity network consists of 545,000 kilometres of power cables, of which 329,500 km are underground cables and 215,500 km overhead lines.

Capacity concerns: 


High volumes of hydroelectric power need to be transported from the North to the South. There is at times significant congestion between the two regions. Congestion within the national grid is generally associated with high hydropower generation in the North, which results in pressure to transmit power southward, where consumption is concentrated. When low reservoir levels coincide with unplanned outage of nuclear power plants, which was the case in January 2010 and 2011, price spikes are likely to occur. This increases the need for reinforced interconnections that reduce congestion within Sweden and between Sweden and neighbouring countries.


Sweden has a relatively small gas market, but the fact that it is only interconnected to Denmark makes it vulnerable to disruption.

Potential for Renewable Energy: 


The Swedish solar-cell market is still very limited, but since 2005 has begun to grow with the aid of government funding. Total installed capacity in 2011 was approximately 14 MW. During 2013–2016, the Swedish Energy Agency will invest SEK 123 million in research into solar cells, thermal solar power and solar fuels with a view to boosting the use of solar energy in the Swedish energy system.

Wind Energy

Although nuclear and hydropower supply most of the electricity in Sweden, over the past several years, these other two sources are on the decline or remain flat, while wind power is increasing at a very high rate. For instance, the vast majority of wind turbines in Sweden have been built in the last 10 years, with wind power generation increasing by 78% from just 2008 to 2010. 208 new wind power turbines were installed with a total capacity of 574 MW in 2010 alone. The average capacity of wind turbines in Sweden is 1.9 MW.  Wind power currently accounts for about 2.4% of electricity use in Sweden. Although most of Sweden’s wind turbines are located in the southern portion of the country, which is the most densely populated, most municipalities now have wind turbines.


The most important domestic renewable source of energy is biofuels, i.e. fuels from the plant kingdom. These are mainly obtained from forest or farmland, although organic wastes from households and industry also make up an important share. In their various forms, biofuels can be used to produce electricity and heat, or as vehicle fuels.


Biogas production is today approximately 1.4 TWh. According to the “Proposal for a multisectoral biogas strategy”, profitability is greatest for sewage sludge and restaurant and food waste the largest remaining potential exists for food waste. It is possible to enhance the collection of food waste and achieve the goal of biological treatment. Such an increased collection provides opportunities to increase the amount of food waste that is digested. However, the amount of attractive substrate is limited and corresponds to approximately 2.5 TWh. The study estimates that virtually all of the existing potential of the substrate in urban areas can be exploited at reasonable costs.


In 2010 Sweden generated 67 000 GWh of electricity from hydropower, making it the biggest hydropower producer in the European Union and the tenth biggest worldwide. Sweden’s hydropower industry is mature, with a high proportion of ageing dams and stations. Hydropower production in Sweden is in most cases regulated by concessions – which are equivalent to licences for hydropower operators to use water resources – that have been granted in a court of law.


Geothermal energy is heat that is obtained from the Earth’s interior, deriving from the radioactive decay of certain heavier elements. In the bedrock beneath Sweden, the temperature rises by 10–30°C for every 1 km increase in depth (the ‘geothermal gradient’). In volcanically active regions, the temperature increase can be much greater than that. In Sweden, the best potential for geothermal energy is considered to exist in areas where there are large bodies of groundwater at considerable depths (2–3 km), i.e. areas with thick layers of sedimentary bedrock or fault zones such as the Lake Vättern graben. Areas where meteorites have given rise to fractured bedrock at great depths are also judged to be of interest, including the Siljan Ring, the Dellen lakes and Björkö on Lake Mälaren.

Sweden’s largest commercial geothermal plant at present is in Lund. Drawing water at 20°C from sedimentary strata at a depth of some 700 m, the plant meets 30% of the city’s district heating needs (i.e. 250 GWh). The heat contained in the water is heat-exchanged to achieve the required temperature.

Potential for Energy Efficiency: 

As of 2011, the largest consumer of final energy in Sweden was the industrial sector, with 32.5%, or 10,635 ktoe. In conjunction with the tertiary sector, a number of measures are in place to address industrial energy efficiency in the country’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, including mandatory requirements from the latest environmental code, and a voluntary energy-intensive industry efficiency programme. These measures are complemented by economic incentives, as well as capacity building and information campaigns. Current targets for the Swedish economy are to save 12.8 Mtoe of primary energy by 2020. A significant proportion of equivalent electricity savings can come from the residential sector, due to the high level of heating required by the sector. Overall, 15.4 TWh can be saved by 2020, corresponding to 24% of total heating/warm water energy usage in 2012.


The Swedish electricity market was deregulated in 1996, since when electricity trading and generation have been open to competition, while network operations are a regulated monopoly.

The Swedish wholesale market is one part of an integrated Nordic electricity market that is, in turn, part of an increasingly integrated European electricity market.  On the Nordic electricity exchange Nord Pool Spot, electricity is bought and sold by players in the Nordic countries.  A high turnover on Nord Pool Spot increases confidence in the price quotations that are being formed in the market.  Nord Pool Spot’s share of the exchange market was about 77% of the total consumption for 2012.  The total volume traded at Nord Pool Spot was 338.2 TWh, which was an increase of about 13% over the previous year.

Svenska Kraftnat (SvK) is the state-owned utility that owns the Swedish national grid, and is responsible for maintaining the balance between production and consumption of power, as well as for the operational safety of the Swedish electricity transmission system.   Local and regional network companies are responsible for maintaining their networks to ensure that each connection within their individual networks, at all times, have access to electricity according to given quality standards. As of 2012, there were 168 electricity network companies in Sweden.

Structure / extent of competition: 


The Swedish consumer market for electricity, unlike the wholesale market, is national. For many years, however, there had been political pressure for the creation of a joint Nordic consumer market by 2015. A joint Nordic consumer market involves customers in the Nordic countries being able to choose suppliers freely across national borders.  In the fall of 2012, EI was commissioned by the government to produce a proposal about the changes that are required to Swedish law in order to create the conditions of a Nordic consumer market.  In this report, EI proposed for example that the electricity suppliers become the customer’s primary point of contact when changing or moving as well as for billing.  The proposal also involves mandatory combined billing.

There are about 5.2 million electricity customers in Sweden. Of these, about 87% are domestic consumers.  In recent years, the number of electricity suppliers has remained more or less unchanged.  At the end of 2012 there were 121 electricity suppliers, of which 97% sold electricity throughout the country.  More than half of all electricity suppliers are companies that are part of businesses that also generate electricity.

The five largest Swedish electricity producers –Vattenfall, Fortum, E.ON, Statkraft, Skelleftea Kraft- accounted for a little more than 85% of total domestic electricity production in 2012.  In total, 39.1% of the installed capacity in the country is foreign owned.  The Swedish State, as owner of Vattenfall, owned a total of 38.6% of the total installed capacity.  Swedish municipalities together own 12.3% of the capacity.

The Swedish wholesale market is one part of an integrated Nordic market thanks to transmission interconnections with Norway, Denmark and Finland.  The Nordic grid is, in turn, interconnected with the European electricity network.  The operational management of the electricity network takes place within each individual country, where the transmission system operator (TSO) is responsible for balancing the national grid.

SvK runs and manages the Swedish national grid.  SvK is also the agency that is the transmission system operator for the Swedish electricity network.  SvK has the duty to commercially manage, run and develop a cost-effective, operationally and environmentally adapted electricity transmission system, as well as to sell transmission capacity and conduct other activities connected to the electricity transmission system.

The Swedish consumer market for electricity has been exposed to competition since 1996.  There is no regulation of prices.  In recent years, the number of electricity suppliers has remained more or less unchanged.  At the end of 2012 there were 121 electricity suppliers, of which 97% sold electricity throughout the country.  More than a half of all electricity suppliers are companies that are part of businesses that also generate electricity.


Natural gas was introduced to Sweden in 1985 through an extension of the Danish natural gas system to southern Sweden.  The trade in natural gas in the Swedish system has been completely exposed to competition since 2007.

Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy: 

In 2009, the Swedish Parliament passed a comprehensive energy and climate change policy and plan. Their stated goal is to be free of fossil fuels by mid-century. Their stated reasons for pursuing this goal include: to contribute to slowing down climate change; to provide sustainable, stable, and affordable energy sources for Sweden; and to improve the long-term economic outlook for Sweden.

Sweden’s plan recognizes that renewable energy and economic development are intertwined: “the world faces several interdependent challenges. The climate crisis has coincided with an economic downturn, and the way out of both these crises is an economy which accommodates the environment – an eco-efficient economy.” Like Denmark, there is a strong emphasis on energy independence (with renewable energy) not only being healthier but also creating energy jobs within their boundaries.

Sweden has a comprehensive energy planning process with national targets for renewable energy and a green certificate system, both of which wind power is a part of. Each municipality is also required to create its own energy plan, which includes strategies for meeting the national targets for renewable energy.

Sweden’s national energy plan sets the following goals:

  • The proportion of energy supplied by renewable sources is to be at least 50% of the country’s energy use by 2020;
  • Vehicles in Sweden are to be independent of fossil fuels by 2030 (which includes being fuelled by wind power); and
  • There will be no net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2050.
  • In 2009, Sweden approved a plan for wind power of 30 TWh by 2020, of which 20 TWh is to be produced onshore and 10 TWh offshore. Currently, 71 out of 1,655 wind turbines are offshore, and this represents 163 MW.

Sweden has a market-based green certificate system that supports producers of renewable electricity, including wind power. Utilities must purchase these certificates in order to meet their required percentage of renewable energy. Market prices are then set by the supply and demand for these certificates.

Action plan for renewable energy

As part of the integrated climate and energy policy, Sweden set in motion an action plan for renewable energies. This included a higher ambition for the electricity certificate system with an increase of 25 TWh by 2020 compared to 2002, when the system started. Sweden also put forward a national planning framework for wind power of 30 TWh by 2020 (20 TWh onshore, 10 TWh offshore) to provide orientation to municipal spatial planning procedures

Sweden promotes efficient fuel use and the use of renewable energy sources in passenger cars with flexible fuel vehicles and efficient technologies, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, and the use of biogas, ethanol, hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) and biodiesel through a number of tax incentives and blending.  In Sweden, the fulfilment of the sustainable requirements, as authorised by the Swedish Energy Agency, is a condition for obtaining tax exemptions. Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, only biofuels that fulfil the sustainability criteria may be taken into account for the fulfilment of targets or be entitled to state aid.

Action plan for energy efficiency

Under the integrated climate and energy policy bill, Sweden adopted comprehensive five-year energy efficiency programme for 2010-2014 with a total of SEK 1350 million (EUR156.23 million) or SEK 270 million (EUR 31.25 million) per year.  The activities under this programmer aim to strengthen the regional and local climate and energy initiatives, to support green procurement by the public sector to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs to manage and audit their energy consumption, and to procure energy-efficient technology.  In addition, Sweden continues the Programme for Energy Efficiency in Energy-Intensive Industry (PFE).  Overall funding from the State budget in the area of energy efficiency is around SEK 530 million (EUR 61.44 million) per year.

Current energy debates or legislation: 

Questions about the design of energy politics are highly contested in today's Swedish political debate. On the one hand, some parliamentarians argue in their bills that access to large amounts of cheap energy is needed since Sweden has a relatively high percentage of electricity-intensive industry. On the other hand, other parliamentarians claim in their bills that Swedish high energy production has negative environmental consequences, even beyond Sweden's borders. In order to reduce these effects, our energy use should decrease.

Major energy studies: 

Nordic Energy Research

Nordic Energy Research is the platform for joint Nordic Energy Research and policy development under the auspices of Nordic Council of Ministers. It promotes cooperation in research and policy between Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Role of government: 

The development of Swedish energy policy rests with the central government, supported by several implementing national governmental authorities and active local authorities. The county’s administrative boards, which represent the national government at the regional level, are tasked from the government to formulate regional energy and climate strategies in collaboration with regional actors.

The Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications (Näringsdepartementet) is the lead ministry for energy policy with three ministers, the Minister for Information Technology and Energy being in charge of energy policy. The Division for Energy, with a staff of around 25 people, has an overall co-ordination and planning role.

The Ministry of the Environment (Miljödepartementet) is in charge of climate and environment policy. The Division for Climate leads global and EU climate change negotiations, environmental co-operation in the Nordic and Arctic regions, and the promotion of a green economy. The Division for Chemicals deals with environment and health issues related to products and their lifecycles as well as nuclear safety, radiation protection and management of radioactive waste. The Division for Environmental Analysis co-ordinates and governs the work on Sweden’s environmental objectives and processes administrative matters under the Swedish Environmental Code.

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for the Planning and Building Act that governs the controls of construction work and environmental planning.

The Ministry of Finance (Finansdepartementet) is responsible for co-ordinating and negotiating the annual national state budget. The Tax and Customs Department has an overall responsibility for designing taxation instruments, including in the area of energy and environment policy.

Government agencies in sustainable energy: 

The Swedish Energy Agency (Statens Energimyndighet) under the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications is the central governmental agency responsible for implementing the energy policy. It carries out the energy and environment computer-modelling projections and forecasts, provides for energy statistics and policy analysis, the administration of the electricity certificate system, the implementation of the sustainability criteria for biofuels, the promotion of wind power development, the administration of the project-based mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. It has the oversight over the implementation of energy efficiency measures and the energy policy programme for research, development and demonstration (RD&D) as well as the support to innovation, business development and commercialisation.

Swedish National Grid (Svenska Kraftnät) is the transmission system operator. It owns and operates the national high-voltage electricity grid and is also responsible for the electricity system’s short-term balance and security of electricity supply. Since 2005, it has also operated the gas transmission system.

The Swedish Electricity Safety Board under the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications oversees safety of electricity supply.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) under the Ministry of the Environment has the main responsibility for implementing environmental policy, developing environmental scenario forecasts with the help of the Swedish Energy Agency and carrying out in-depth monitoring reviews (every four years) of the implementation of the 16 environmental objectives, and the generational goal, together with the All-Party Committee on Environmental Objectives.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) was created in 2008 under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment as the regulatory authority for nuclear safety, radiation protection and nuclear non-proliferation.

The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) is the national agency for planning, management of land and water resources, urban development, building and housing. It promotes the efficient use of energy in buildings and the implementation of the building regulations.

In the area of research and development, the Swedish Research Council (Forskningsrådet Formas) promotes and supports basic research and need-driven research in the areas of environment, agricultural sciences and spatial planning.

Founded in 2001, under the authority of the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and

Communications, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) promotes sustainable growth by improving the conditions for innovations, as well as funding needs-driven research. VINNOVA acts as the national contact agency for the EU Framework Programme for Research and Development.

Energy planning procedures: 

The Swedish transmission system operator, Svenska Kraftnät, is responsible for the preparation of national grid development plans. These plans are presented to the board of the state-owned company, consisting of the head of the company and government experts. The government can influence grid development by re-defining the role of the state-owned TSO each year. The concession-granting process for new energy projects is handled by the Energy Market Inspectorate, resulting in permissions being granted to construct and operate an energy infrastructure project, subject to the granting of the requisite permits. The permitting process is handled by the County Administrative Boards and municipalities, as well as with the involvement of Environmental Courts with regard to extensive ground works (tunnelling etc.).

Electricity from renewable energy sources is currently subject to neither a purchase obligation nor a dispatching priority scheme. Grid operators at a transmission and distribution level are obliged to connect new generating facilities to their grids if necessary, however the bearing of costs for these improvements is not subject to a specific process, and is handled on a case-by-case basis, with a final decision made by the TSO.

Energy regulator Date of creation: 

Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate (EI)

The Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate (Energimarknadsinspektionen), created in 2008, under the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, is the independent regulator and supervises the electricity, natural gas and district heating markets in Sweden. On consumer issues, the government and the regulator are supported by the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket).

Degree of independence: 

The Swedish regulator employs 95 staff with an annual budget of around EUR 11 million. Despite being an agency administratively attached to the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, it is independent and with satisfactory powers.

Regulatory framework for sustainable energy: 

Electricity certificates

The electricity certificate system is a market-based support system for expansion of electricity production in Sweden from renewable energy sources and from peat. The objective is to increase, by 2020, the production of electricity from such sources by 25 TWh relative to production in 2002. The certificate system, which will run until the end of 2035, is intended to help Sweden achieve a more ecologically sustainable energy system.

Producers of electricity in approved plants are allocated one certificate unit for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity that they produce and meter from renewable energy sources or from peat. These certificates are sold on the market to the highest offer and therefore constitute an additional income to the producer.

Demand for certificates is created by the fact that all electricity suppliers, and also certain electricity users, are required to purchase certificates corresponding to a certain proportion (quota) of their electricity sales or electricity use.

Deduction of taxes (ROT-avdrag)

A tax reduction of 50% of the labor cost for work achieved in owned residences or second homes up to 50 000 SEK/year/person (approx. 5600 €). For example this could be used when installing solar systems, boilers, heat-pumps etc.

Net Metering

Since many years, there is a discussion about changing the rules for selling own produced electricity on the grid. The electricity produced, but not consumed, can be sold on the grid. To sell the electricity on the grid and get paid for it, the producer must install a meter with hourly values of electricity delivered. For small customers using more electricity during the year than they produce and with facilities of maximum 63 amps and 43.5 kilowatts, the network operator installs the possible meter replacement.

Today, there is no possibility to pair up the electricity you would sell and the electricity you would buy back from the grid. This is a big disadvantage for the small producer/user as they have to pay all the fees connected to the electricity they buy (grid fee, energy taxes and VAT), but they only get the price per KWh for the electricity they sell.

The Energy Market Inspectorate suggests introducing a system with net charge of the difference between the produced and consumed energy. No decision has been taken yet although the discussion has been on-going since many years.

Different interpretations at County Administrations

The County Administrative Board has been allocated with funds by the government to be used for different enterprise allowances. These allowances are designed to help the county’s businesses with their long-term profitability and growth. The scope and direction of the allowances varies between different counties and over time, depending on the resources and specific assignments that the government has issued to counties. This means you could get money to invest in a renewable energy business including job creations and better conditions to the communities in some counties, and in other not.

Small scale operations permits

In some kind of energy production plants specific operations permits are needed (e.g. hydro-power plants). These permits include previous investigations of the various impacts of the facilities on environment, habitants and various other interests. But the procedure to obtain these permits are the same weather you’d build a big scale plant producing thousands of GWh per year or just a small operation for a couple of households. There are no simplified procedures for small-scale operations.

Regulatory roles: 

EI has the collective responsibility for the regulation and supervision of the Swedish electricity market and the implementation of the Electricity Act.  EI’s duties include exercising supervision to ensure that companies comply with the electricity legislation.  In the Act, it is stated that the regulator governs the terms for access to the network for cross-border trade in electricity.   In 2011 the new Regulation on Wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency (REMIT) came into force, which facilitates coherent supervision of the increasingly European electricity and gas markets.

Role of government department in energy regulation: 

The Swedish Energy Agency is subordinate to the Ministry for Enterprise, Energy and Communication, and the government decide the assignments given to the Agency, and their work programme.

Regulatory barriers: 

The most severe obstacle for the deployment of RES in the electricity sector is the existing support scheme of quota system with tradable green certificates, which is regarded as insufficient. It hampers the ability and willingness to increase the production of electricity. The possible investors are reluctant to start an investment in new RES-E installations because the profitability is too low.  This barrier concerns all RES-E technologies. However, especially the development of smaller, not market-mature technologies is hindered.

The quota system as the one used in Sweden has been considered as not as effective as the feed-in system used in e.g. Germany and Finland.  The system has led to a rapid expansion for some years but it supports primarily big investors and only the market-mature technologies like on-shore wind.

The insecurity of the investment into RES is even higher because of the low price of electricity on the energy market. The surplus of electricity caused by a high share of nuclear power contributes to the decrease of the price of electricity.  The RES-E plant operators receive on one hand money for the electricity they sell at the market and on the other hand the revenues from selling the green certificates. The low price of electricity at the market combined with the insecurity of the certificate price hinders investments in the renewable electricity sector.  Also this barrier concerns all RES-E technologies.


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