Sweden Hits Its 2030 Clean Energy Target This Year

They just went nuts installing wind turbines, according to an industry group report (paraphrasing).

 Robert Cutts / Flickr

Sweden will claim 3,681 wind turbines by December 2018, putting it 12 years ahead of a country goal to add 18 terawatt-hours to its renewable energy output by 2030, according to a recent report from the Swedish Wind Energy Association.

It’s easily the second most impressive thing that Sweden will do this year — after finally making it to a World Cup quarterfinal for the first time since 1994. But there’s a policy snag with the rewards: Subsidies for Sweden’s renewables industry are set to dry up once it reaches the 2030 targets, due to the unique renewable certificate market shared between Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbor Norway. Reflecting this, the predictive “forward prices” for these certificates has dipped 70 percent this year for the year 2021 thanks to all the new installations — which has obviously spooked the wind industry a little.

Sites of wind turbines in Sweden. It gets very windy in the south.

Svensk Vindenergi (the Swedish Wind Energy Association)

See also: Open-Ocean Wind Farms Could Meet Current Global Energy Demand

“For Sweden to remain interesting for investors ahead of markets with higher revenues but greater political risks, it is important for policy makers to show that they care about past investments,” according to Mattias Wondollek of the Swedish Wind Energy Association, in a statement. “This is done best by introducing a volume-based stop rule.” (Basically, reward early investors and let this subsidy issue mostly impact the Johnny-come-lately’s, the wind posers, etc.)

Curiously, the plan for much of that new capacity will be built on the land. The report’s project portfolio lists 246 wind turbines currently under construction with an additional 3,069 permitted and another 2,590 still in the permit process. The Swedish Wind Energy Association estimates that as some of these projects come online, roughly 2,609 megawatts of on-shore wind capacity will be added during the next two years.

Most of that new capacity is being added in the south of Sweden, because (frankly) it’s more windy there — something do with the south’s unobstructed exposure to westerlies from the Atlantic Ocean.

But Sweden is not only building more turbines, it is building larger turbines, too. Their air force is even starting to compete with them for airspace, reports Reuters, and the Swedish power company Vattenfall has started installing turbines that circle an area of wind that the company reports is “almost half an international-size soccer field larger than the turbine’s predecessor.” (This is what you have to do to get a good team for the World Cup, by the way, just start thinking about every aspect of your economy in terms of soccer.)