Questions about wind power and our answers

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What does the Energy Agreement 2016 mean?

The Energy Agreement 2016 is an agreement reached by five of the eight parties in the Swedish Parliament,  the Riksdag (the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Moderates, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats).

The goal of the agreement is that Sweden will have 100% renewable electricity production by 2040 in relation to electricity consumption. Renewables will be expanded and will gradually replace nuclear power, and enable Sweden to be a long-term net exporter of electricity.

The power tax on nuclear generation will be reduced, while renewable electricity generation will be limited to 18 Terawatt hours in the period 2020 to 2030. The electricity certificate system, the support system introduced in 2003 to increase the production of renewable electricity, is to be extended. Under the agreement hydropower tax on buildings will be adapted to other power types.

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What proposals did the Energy Commission make?

In March 2015, the government decided to appoint a commission, in the form of a parliamentary committee, to review energy policy. The mission of the Energy Commission was to provide the basis for a broad agreement on energy policy, focusing on the conditions for electricity supply after 2025-2030, according to the directive (dir. 2015: 25, Energy Policy Review). The Energy Commission’s Report was submitted in January 2017 The Energy Commission proposed that

  • The target for 2040 is 100 percent renewable electricity generation. This is a goal, not a deadline that prohibits nuclear power, nor does it involve closing down nuclear power through political decisions.
  • By 2030, Sweden will have 50 percent more efficient energy usage compared with 2005. The target is expressed in terms of energy supply in relation to gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Sweden should have a robust electrical system with high delivery reliability, low environmental impact and electricity at competitive prices. This will provide a long-term approach and clarity for market players and will generate new jobs and investment in Sweden.
  • Energy policy must be based on the fact that Sweden is closely linked with its neighbours in northern Europe and aims to find common solutions to challenges in the common electricity market.
  • By 2045, Sweden will have zero greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and will subsequently generate negative emissions.

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What environmental objectives did the Parliamentary Environmental Assessment Committee propose?

On July 1, 2010, the government decided to appoint a Parliamentary Environmental Committee tasked to submit proposals to the government on how Sweden’s environmental quality objectives and generational goals can be achieved.

The aim was to reach a wide political consensus on long-term decisions on the most difficult areas of environmental policy. The mission was to propose a climate policy framework and a strategy for a comprehensive and long-term climate policy (2014: 165). The Environmental Assessment Committee’s interim report, A climate policy framework for Sweden, was presented in March 2016.

Historical and ongoing greenhouse gas emissions are already giving rise to significant and severe climate change, which causes unacceptable risks to ecosystems and communities. In order to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees, and aiming to limit it to 1.5 degrees, nations throughout the world are urgently switching to zero emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and these emissions must transition to negative levels in the second half of this century.

The Environmental Assessment Committee proposed:

  • By 2045, Sweden will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and will subsequently achieve negative emissions. The goal involves bringing forward and tightening of the previous vision of net zero emissions by 2050.
  • By 2045, emissions from operations on Swedish territory, in accordance with Sweden’s international greenhouse gas reporting, should be at least 85 percent lower than 1990 emissions. In order to achieve this goal, the capture and storage of carbon dioxide of fossil origin where reasonable alternatives are lacking is regarded as an appropriate measure (CCS).
  • In order to achieve net zero emissions, additional measures may be required in accordance with internationally agreed rules.
  • The target in 2045 presupposes increased ambitions in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)

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What does the Paris agreement mean?

The climate issue is the crucial issue of our time. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes in its fifth evaluation report that climate change is occurring. The warmest decade and warmest years that have been measured have occurred after 2000. The sea is warming up and sea levels are rising. The natural environment and communities are already being affected all over the world.

If the temperature continues to rise at the rate seen and predicted by scientists, it will lead to very serious consequences for life on earth. Resilient ecosystems are essential for our existence because they produce our food, our clean water and the oxygen we breathe. Climate change can be curtailed and a coherent global and national political effort is needed to ensure a safe environment in the future.

On November 4, 2016, the global climate agreement reached in Paris came into force. The agreement was negotiated from 2011-2015 and approved at COP21 in Paris in December 2015. The essence of the Paris Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to support those affected by the impact of climate change.

The global temperature rise must be kept well below 2 degrees, and we will make every effort to prevent it exceeding 1.5 degrees. Like the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement is linked to the UNFCCC Convention, which is an international agreement under the auspices of the UN. Of 197 countries that are parties to the Convention, 194 have signed the Paris Agreement. In April 2017, 141 of these had ratified the agreement.

The Agreement states that global warming must be well below two degrees and that the aim should be to limit it to 1.5 degrees. The Agreement also means that countries will gradually tighten their commitments and renew or update these every five years. A global review of the total commitments will also take place every five years starting in 2023. Proposition for approval of the Paris Agreement, prop 2016/17:16

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What does the proposal for the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2020 – 2030 involve?

The European Council decided in October 2014 on a framework for EU climate and energy policy for the period 2020 to 2030. Among other things, a binding EU-level target of at least 27% was proposed for the share of renewable energy used in the EU by 2030 Since then, the European Council has called on the European Commission to review and develop legislation to support the achievement of the 2030 target.

The European Parliament has invited the Commission to present legislative proposals for renewable energy. Against this background, and as part of the implementation of the EU Energy Union, the EU Commission has proposed a revision of the Renewal Directive (2009/28 / EU).

The proposal was presented on 30 November 2016. It proposes an EU target for the share of renewable energy should be at least 27 percent by 2030. Furthermore, a number of measures are proposed to promote the achievement of this objective. There is considerable focus on the transport and heating sectors, but the directive also contains proposals, for example, for support systems for electricity generation. The directive is the starting point for further discussions on how the EU can take a leading role in renewable energy in the essential global transformation of the energy sector. EU Renewal Directive 2020-2030, Factor Matter 2016/17:FPM45

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What is the EU’s renewable energy target?

The current EU target is that 20 percent of all energy consumed by Member States will be renewable by 2020. To achieve this, it is estimated that at least 34 percent of electricity must come from renewable sources and that at least 40 percent of this must come from wind power.

The EU Commission has proposed a revision of the Renewal Directive (2009/28 / EU), under which the EU’s target for the share of renewable energy will be at least 27 percent by 2030. The proposal is a starting point for further discussions on how the EU can take a leading role in renewable energy in the essential global transformation of the energy sector. EU Renewal Directive 2020-2030, Factor Matter 2016/17: FPM45

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What is EU 20-20-20?

Climate issues have been at the heart of the EU’s concerns for a long time. Current EU climate targets focus on 2020, and are usually shortened to 20-20-20. They set three key targets and an additional transport target that the EU must reach by 2020. The EU will

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, compared to 1990 levels
  • reduce energy consumption by 20 percent
  • increase the share of renewable energy to 20 percent of all energy consumption
  • increase the proportion of biofuel for transport to 10 percent.

Renewable energy is energy produced from non-fossil sources. It includes energy from wind, solar, hydropower and biofuels.

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Does Sweden have an action plan for renewable energy?

Under the EU Directive, Sweden is committed to ensuring that at least 49 percent of total energy consumption comes from renewable sources. The Swedish government has raised this to 50 percent. The government formulated “Sweden’s National Action Plan for the Promotion of Renewable Energy” in accordance with Directive 2009/28 / EC. Government: Development of Renewable Energy according to Directive 2009/28/EC.

Renewable energy continues to expand in Sweden, reaching 54 percent in 2015, calculated in accordance with the Renewables Directive. Over the past ten years, the share of renewable energy has increased by 14 percentage points. In particular, the expansion of wind power and the use of biofuels in the transport sector have been a major factor in to increasing the proportion of renewable energy in recent years. Follow-up of the energy policy objectives.

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What are the planning and development goals?

It is important to distinguish between planning and development goals. Today, a 2020 wind turbine plan is available, comprising 20 TWh of onshore wind power and 10 TWh of offshore wind power.

The planning framework is not an expansion target. It is natural that the planning framework, which aims to highlight wind power in contexts such as physical planning, expresses a higher ambition level than an expansion target. There is no specific development target for wind power, but it is the system of electricity certificates that completely controls the amount and type of energy. The power sources that compete primarily with each other are biofuel heating and wind power.

According to the Energy Agreement 2016 (the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Moderates, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats concluded the agreement in June 2016), the electricity certificate system will be extended so that renewable electricity generation can be expanded by 18 TWh in the period 2020 to 2030.

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What do TWh, GWh, MWh and kWh stand for?

1 TWh = 1,000 GWh = 1,000,000 MWh = 1,000,000,000 kWh

Sweden’s total electricity production = approximately 160 TWh / year.

Sweden’s total electricity consumption = about 140 TWh / year.

Wind power produced 15.4 TWh of electricity in 2016.

By the end of 2016 there were 3,378 wind turbines with a total power of 6,495 MW.

A modern 3 MW plant on land in a normal wind position produces 9,000,000 kWh, which is sufficient for household appliances for approximately 1,800 households at 5,000 kWh / year.

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What is the electricity certificate system?

The Electricity certificate system was introduced in 2003 to facilitate the expansion of renewable electricity generation. The support is not charged to public finances but is financed by electricity consumers. Since 2003, the system has been extended and its target has been increased.

The current target is 30 TWh of renewable electricity generation between 2002 and 2020. Since 2012, we have a joint electricity certificate system with Norway, which means that both countries together will finance 28.4 TWh between 2012 and 2020.

The point of the system is to let the market control how much renewable energy is constructed in each country. This means that the Swedish target of 30 TWh is a funding target rather than an expansion target. To date (May 2017), most of the expansion within the common system has taken place in Sweden.

In theory, the certificate should represent the difference between the electricity price and the production cost. This implies that the electricity certificate price has fallen in line with the decline in production costs. In addition, an excess supply of electricity certificates, mainly due to inadequate adjustments to inaccurate forecasts of electricity consumption, has depressed the electricity certificate price over a number of years, and this has led to profitability problems for many investors.

For the electricity certificate system to function properly, it must meet the politically determined goals, be cost-effective for the consumer and provide reasonable profitability for producers and investors. So far, the system has delivered expansion in line with the political objectives. The expansion has been at low cost for the consumer, but at the expense of profitability for investors.

From the introduction of the electricity certificate system in 2003 until the end of 2016, electricity certificates have been allocated as follows; bio power 49.13 percent, wind power 35.2 percent, hydropower 12.7 percent, peat 2.93 percent and solar power 0.04 percent.

Since January 1, 2012, Sweden and Norway have had a common electricity certificate market. This means that electricity certificates can be traded across national borders. The goal of the joint electricity certificate market is to increase electricity generation by 28.4 TWh between 2012 and 2020. Sweden will finance 15.2 TWh and Norway 13.2 TWh, but it is up to the market to decide where and when new production will take place.

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What does the electricity certificate cost – and who pays?

All electricity consumers in Sweden, except those in electricity-intensive industry, pay an electricity certificate fee through their electricity bill. The fee is usually included in the electricity price, making it difficult to see how much it is, but for 2016 the average cost was SEK 0.036 per kilowatt hour.

The total volume of electricity on which the cost of the electricity certificate system is estimated is approximately 90 TWh (total consumption = about 140 TWh minus power supply losses 10 TWh minus electricity-intensive industry 40 TWh = around 90 TWh). The figure varies slightly from year to year.

The quota obligation in the electricity certificate system also varies from year to year. The quota curve is set so that the target of 30 TWh of renewable electricity will be reached by 2020. For 2017, the quota is set at 24.7 percent.

Electricity certificates are traded at Swedish Power Management (SKM). The price of electricity certificates has fallen sharply. Between 2007 and 2015 the average price was SEK 0.237 per kWh. During 2016, the spot price of electricity certificates averaged SEK 0.137 per kWh.

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Why does Sweden have an electricity certificate system and not an auction system?

Countries with domestic turbine manufacturers previously had feed-in systems. The support was generous and made it possible to build up a domestic market.

Sweden, in common with other countries without their own turbine producers, introduced some type of market-based support system at an early stage. The Swedish electricity certificate system started in 2003, while Göran Persson was Prime Minister. The system has produced the desired expansion at very low cost to electricity consumers.

Over time, more countries have switched to auction/procurement systems. Such systems are better aligned with EU support rules and are considered as leading to lower costs for electricity consumers.

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What did Control Station 2015 contain?

On 21 October 2015, the Swedish Parliament, the Riksdag, approved the Government’s proposal that Sweden, through the electricity certificate system, should finance an additional 30 terawatt hours of renewable electricity generation by 2020 compared with 2002.

The new national funding target replaces the Riksdag’s previously established target for renewable electricity production of an additional 25 terawatt hours by 2020 compared to 2002. The target for the common market with Norway increased from 26.4 terawatt hours to 28.4 terawatt hours of renewable electricity generation by 2020. The Government gave the following reasons for the proposal:

The climate issue is the crucial issue of our time, and Sweden must be at the forefront in setting the necessary climate action. Efforts to achieve the environmental quality objectives adopted by the Riksdag and the generational target must be strengthened. In the budget bill for 2015, the Swedish government stated that Sweden has particularly attractive conditions for expanding renewable energy and that it should, therefore. be further expanded. The government further stated that the electricity certificate system is an effective instrument for achieving the targets set for renewable electricity generation and that raised targets for renewable electricity generation by 2020 should be implemented within the framework of that system. The raised targets will promote the expansion of renewable energy and contribute to realising the government’s ambition that Sweden will eventually have an energy system based on 100 percent renewable energy.

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What did Control Station 2017 contain?

Proposition New target for renewable electricity and control station for the power certificate system 2017, in addition to the proposal for a new target by 2030, contained a number of proposals and assessments;

  • Proposed amendments to the Electricity Certificates Act (2011: 1200) which extend the power certificate system to 2045 and expand the system by 18 terawatt hours by 2030. The proposal involves a linear expansion of 2 terawatt hours per year to achieve the additional 18 terawatt hours, starting in 2022 and continuing until the end of 2030.
  • The changes mean that the quotas for calculating the quota obligation, currently in the Act, are moved to the Electricity Certificate Regulation (2011: 1480) and that the values ​​for the terawatt hours to be used for calculating the quotas are stated in the Act.
  • Provisions indicating what changes to quotas, known as technical adjustments, may be made and how such adjustments should be made.
  • Changes in the quota duty for certain deliveries of electricity, including vehicle charging stations.
  • It is necessary that an agreement be reached between Sweden and Norway for the new target to be implemented by 2030.
  • The proposed amendments will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

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What is quota duty and what quota levels apply in the electricity certificate system?

Companies with quota obligations under the Electricity Certificate Act must purchase a certain proportion of electricity certificates in relation to their electricity sales or electricity use. Quota obligations are imposed on electricity suppliers, electricity users who use the electricity they themselves produce, electricity users who import or purchase electricity on the Nordic electricity exchange, as well as electricity-intensive industries that have been registered by the Swedish Energy Agency.

The proportion of electricity certificates that companies with quota obligations must purchase each year is determined by a quota in the Electricity Certificate Act. The quota levels are fixed until 2035. The quotas for the years 2003 to 2035 are given below.

Year Quota in percent
2003 7.4
2004 8.1
2005 10.4
2006 12.6
2007 15.1
2008 16.3
2009 17.0
2010 17.9
2011 17.9
2012 17.9
2013 13.5
2014 14.2
2015 14.3
2016 23.1
2017 24.7
2018 27.0
2019 29.1
2020 28.8
2021 27.2
2022 25.7
2023 24.4
2024 22.7
2025 20.6
2026 18.3
2027 16.2
2028 14.6
2029 13.0
2030 11.4
2031 9.4
2032 7.6
2033 5.2
2034 2.8
2035 1.3

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What is a surplus of electricity certificates – and what is over-expansion?

Over-expansion means that plants that generate renewable electricity enter the electricity certificate system earlier than the theoretical quota curve indicates. Persistent over-expansion leads to the ELC system’s targets being reached early or exceeded.

A surplus of electricity certificates occurs when supply in the electricity certificate market exceeds demand (quota obligation). The quota obligation is a proportion of the forecast electricity consumption. If the forecast is inaccurate and the actual electricity consumption is lower than expected, demand will be lower than expected.

There is currently a surplus that has been building up in the system since 2012, driven largely by inaccurate forecasts of electricity usage by the Energy Agency, which has led to demand being lower planned and expected.

At present, we have a critical situation with a continuing high surplus in anticipation of the adjustments being effective. Estimates of losses in the wind power industry range between SEK 5 – 8 billion during the period 2010 – 2015. In making adjustments, it is not only the adjustment volumes that are important, but also when they occur in time. As very little speculation takes place in the electricity certificate market, it is important to emphasise that the effect of adjustments only occurs when the adjustments actually begin to apply. This is relevant both for the management of the surplus and for the design of the adjustment process.

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Why do we have an excess of electricity certificates?

At present, we have a critical situation with a still high surplus in anticipation of the adjustments being effective. Adjustment volumes are important, but so also when they occur in time. As very little speculation takes place in the electricity certificate market, it is important to emphasize that the effect of adjustments only occurs when the adjustments de facto begin to apply.

A faster reduction of the surplus must therefore be achieved by reviewing the time aspect of the adjustments of Control Station 2015. The time aspect involves the spread of adjustments over time, not their total volume.

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Why should wind power be expanded?

The climate change currently being experienced is caused by humanity’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Emissions must be reduced rapidly to avoid very serious consequences. This means that electricity generators all over the world have to stop producing electricity from fossil fuels and instead produce electricity from renewable sources. Wind power plays a central role in the transition.

Wind power has expanded rapidly in recent years and there are strong grounds for continuing to exploit wind power’s potential. Wind power is needed to reduce climate change while safeguarding energy supply and contributing to reduced electricity prices.

Wind power is one of the cheapest electricity generation technologies and it is the renewable energy source that has the greatest potential in the short and medium term to contribute to a more renewable society, both internationally and in Sweden.

In Sweden, the potential for continued wind power expansion is very high due to the availability of large land areas with good wind conditions. For example, Sweden has 26 percent greater land area than Germany, but only one-ninth of the population and significantly better wind levels.

The fact that a large part of electricity generation already comes from hydroelectric power also makes Sweden particularly suitable for large scale wind power expansion, as hydropower complements wind power as a regulating power.

To curb climate change, action will be required in all parts of society. Petrol and diesel cars will need to be replaced by cleaner electric vehicles. Heating is increasingly being provided using efficient heat pumps. In both cases, wind power can supply renewable and emission-free electricity.

Sweden currently has an electricity surplus and with a continued strong expansion of wind power, Sweden will be able to export green electricity to the rest of Europe and contribute to reduced emissions from coal and gas fired power stations.

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Will wind power replace nuclear power?

In Sweden, between 140 and 150 TWh of electricity is normally generated per year (TWh, = terawatt hours = billion kilowatt hours). Electricity usage is usually between 135 and 145 TWh per year.

Wind power and other renewable sources of electricity have become a “third leg” in our electricity supply, alongside hydroelectric power and nuclear power. The Swedish Wind Energy forecast shows that wind power production will increase to about 20 TWh by 2020. This would represent about 14 percent of electricity consumption. In Denmark in 2016, electricity generated by wind power corresponded to 45 percent of electricity consumption, i.e. a significantly higher proportion than in Sweden.

Sweden is expected to have a lower share of wind power than the EU average by 2020, despite the fact that we have better conditions than most countries with hydroelectric power and t good relations with neighbouring countries to balance the variations in wind power production.

Existing nuclear power plants are approaching the end of their service life. In 2017, nuclear power is expected to produce about 63 TWh of electricity. Four reactors will be closed (two in Ringhals and two in Oskarshamn) after 2020. Nuclear production is expected to decline to approximately 45 TWh per year. By the early 2040s, all reactors will have been withdrawn from service.

If we prefer to replace the remaining nuclear power with other forms of generation, this would be possible using a combination of wind power, other forms of  renewable electricity generation and improved efficiency, which reduces electricity consumption.

Under the provisions of the Energy Agreement 2016, renewable electricity generation will be expanded by 18 TWh between 2020 and 2030. Between 2030 and 2040, expansion can continue so that wind power, other forms of renewable electricity generation and improved efficiency can replace the remaining 45 TWh.

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Where do we source electricity when there is no wind?

Our high availability of hydroelectric power and good connections with neighbouring countries mean that Sweden is particularly well placed to use wind power.

When the wind blows strongly, water in the reservoirs can be saved to produce electricity when there is too little wind. Similarly, it is possible to export or import the electricity from our neighbouring countries in similar situations. In addition, there is a great deal of untapped potential in allowing consumption to adapt to production rather than the other way round, as has been until now. KTH: Towards electricity supply based solely on renewable electricity in Sweden

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How efficient is a wind turbine?

A modern onshore wind farm produces electricity, to varying degrees, between 80 and 90 percent of the hours in a year. It starts to produce electricity at wind speeds between 3 – 4 metres per second and reaches its maximum output at 12 – 14 metres per second. It continues to produce at this maximum rate until the wind speed increases to about 30 metres per second. The turbine is then shut down for safety reasons.

The efficiency of a wind turbine in a good wind position is in the range of 35-40 percent, producing approximately 3,000,000 kWh/MW of nameplate capacity. The normal size of the turbines currently being built is approximately 3 MW, so a wind turbine produces about 9,000 MWh/year.

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What is the “power issue”?

The power issue is that there must be sufficient electricity generation capacity to cope with high consumption situations, so that no electricity is disconnected accidentally. For Sweden there are three physical solutions to this: 1) There is enough production to handle maximum consumption, 2) Consumption becomes more flexible, 3) There is enough transmission capacity to other countries from which it is physically possible to import.

There are also other non-physical solutions, such as flexible consumption, not charging electric cars at times of high consumption, more transmission capacity, more hydropower generation. In addition, the output also benefits today’s electricity market, as electricity prices would be much higher if there was a shortfall in output.

At present, it is not clear whether the power issue will become a challenge that requires new solutions. However, the renewal of the electricity certificate system will give 18 TWh more energy, which, regardless of energy type, represents additional power. At the same time, the transmission system is being expanded, for example, the recently approved Hansa connection to Germany.

One question that can have a big impact is whether neighbours can be trusted. If each country in Europe is always going to manage its own supply without being dependent on imports, this will involve a massive over-expansion of capacity, as maximum demand does not occur in all countries simultaneously.

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How much power is needed and when does a power shortfall occur?

When replacing the existing nuclear power with variable power from the sun and wind, investments are needed in the network, regulating power and measures that allow for better load management or storage capacity. There is no shortfall of solutions.

In Sweden we have a large amount of hydropower, which is an excellent source of regulating power force. It is used today to balance the output form nuclear power (and the other power sources) against demand, but can equally be used to balance solar and wind power against demand. Sometimes it is claimed that we need to expand hydropower to cope with more weather-dependent power in the system, but there is no evidence for this.

Both KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and the IEA (International Energy Agency) have found that at least 45 percent variable or weather-dependent power generation is feasible in all electrical systems they studied at low costs. The systems in the study lacked access to hydropower. In other words, there should no problem with getting half of Sweden’s electricity production from sun and wind!

A study by the Norwegian company, Statkraft, shows that 8 out of 10 Swedish nuclear reactors can be phased out by 2030 without the risk of power shortfall.

Sweden’s total electricity generation output is just over 35,000 MW. The power requirement that Sweden is considered to have in the event of a “ten-year winter” (i.e. the most severe winter in a ten-year period) is usually 27,000 MW in different studies on power balance. That is the maximum requirement we have had, and it occurred on February 5, 2001, which is almost 15 years ago.

A report produced by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the results of  a statistical processing of electricity consumption, wind power and nuclear power in the period 1996-2013 were presented. To summarise the results, high power consumption situations are unusual. Electricity consumption was over 26,000 MW for only four of these years, and then for a total of 20 hours, i.e. an average of 1.1 hours per year.

The power reserve that the Swedish National Grid procures annually to ensure that power shortfalls do not occur if the winter is cold is currently 1,000 MW, distributed between 660 MW of production and 340 MW of load depletion. The Swedish National Grid has taken the view that a total decommissioning of nuclear power, if replaced by onshore wind power, would weaken the power balance by 7,000 MW, other things being equal. This is about as much power as is used for electric heating during the winter.

In the report, the Swedish National Grid calculated an average capacity factor of wind power of 11 percent. The capacity factor for new wind turbines is estimated at well over 20 percent. In addition, there are many other changes, not least on the user side, which can make the balance situation in the future look different.

According to estimates from the Norwegian company, Statkraft, the maximum power shortfall would be 6,300 MW if all Swedish reactors were phased out by 2030. This power shortfall also occurs in a very short time in their simulation (the maximum power shortfall lasting for more than one hour is 2,500 MW) and overall some form of power shortfall occurs for no more than 20 hours in total.

The power peaks that occur during the coldest winter days are largely due to the large volume of electric heating remaining in the system, combined with the fact that many activities are carried out during daytime. The maximum power requirement today is 27,000 MW.

The daily variation in power requirement may be about 5,000 – 6,000 MW in winter, as distinct from the hourly average for day and night. The variation between weeks is also significant. Switching the load from day to night and so smoothing out the power curve can thus have a big impact on the size of the maximum power requirement.

The variation between the power demand in winter and summer is large. During a normal day in summer, Sweden’s maximum power requirement is approximately 13,000 MW. More lighting is used in winter, but the big variation is due to electric heating, which, accordingly, has a key role to play in solving the power issue on cold winter days when a shortfall can occur. The situation is similar throughout the Nordic Region, with substantial variations between summer and winter and between day and night.

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Do we need to increase regulating power capacity as wind power is expanded?

Sweden has very good conditions for balancing wind and solar power variations with hydropower and through trading with neighbouring countries. Digitalization gives consumers and electricity producers new opportunities and tools to handle the power challenge. The trend is further enhanced by technological achievements, such as improved batteries, cheaper electric cars and new methods of energy storage. The steel industry’s initiative to use hydrogen to produce steel without carbon dioxide emissions is an excellent example of future opportunities, where, for example, surplus production from wind and solar power can be used to produce hydrogen for industry.

In the case of large-scale expansion of wind power, the need for regulating power increases because the wind varies in strength. A large geographical distribution of the wind turbines reduces the need for regulating power. How large the regulating power requirement will be depends on technological developments, where wind power will be built and how transmission capacity in the grid will be adjusted.

An increased regulating power requirement does not necessarily indicate that increased regulating power capacity is required, but is, rather, a signal that existing production may need to be used to regulate more. It should also be borne in mind that the variations in consumption are much greater than the variations in wind power production. Therefore, there are good conditions for the future to equalize the difference between production and consumption through energy storage and / or flexible consumption.

A study from KTH Royal Institute of Technology shows the possibility of integrating up to 60 TWh wind and solar power, equivalent to about 40 percent of total power consumption, with existing hydropower acting as a source of regulating power.

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How often do wind turbines produce electricity?

Wind turbines produce no electricity when the wind is too light (about 3 – 4 metres per second), and when it is too strong (about 25-30 metres per second) they are shut down for safety reasons. But at the height of the blades, it is very seldom windless and extremely high wind speeds are also uncommon. A wind turbine can, therefore, supply electricity, to varying degrees, during around 90 percent of the hours in the year. In a normal wind position, a modern wind turbine of 3 MW produces approximately 9,000 MWh per year, equivalent to an efficiency of approximately 34 percent. In autumn and winter when the need for electricity is at its greatest, the wind power production of wind power is also at its greatest.

It is important to point out that no type of power generation produces electricity at all times. Availability for nuclear power, for example, is usually in the range of 75 to 80 percent of the maximum operating time.

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Is wind power profitable compared to other forms of electricity generation?

An older production facility that has been depreciated over a long period can, of course, produce electricity at a lower cost than a brand new facility. For that reason, wind power must be compared to other new electricity generation facilities, and then it is very competitive.

The Energy Agency Production Cost Report 2016 shows that 50 TWh of onshore wind power could be realized at a cost level between SEK 0.40 and SEK 0.50 per kWh. By comparison, it can be said that ongoing nuclear power projects within the EU expected to have a production cost of over SEK 0.70 per kWh.

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How are the production costs of wind power calculated?

The total production cost of wind power is usually described by using the Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE) model. LCOE covers all costs, both investments and variable costs), and is described by the following equation:


Some producers can price-set using only the marginal cost of electricity, if the power is long since discounted. In these cases, the producer gets a return on investments as long as the price of electricity is higher than the variable costs in the long run. Moreover, future expected electricity prices can be more important for producers than the current market price. If prices are expected to increase, the calculations add up even if prices are low at that moment. Many current investors choose a so-called Powe Purchase Agreement (PPA), where the electricity or parts of the elecrticity is sold at a fixed rate for an agreed-upon period.


What is the cost of investment, operation and maintenance?

The prices of wind turbines and peripherals have fallen sharply in recent years.

A rule of thumb is that onshore wind power now costs between SEK 10 and 12 million/MW, installed and ready to deliver power to the grid. Ten years ago, the range was SEK 15 – 17 million/MW. The cost depends on the choice of turbine, distance to grid connection and other infrastructure. Another important parameter is the exchange rate between the Swedish Krona and the Euro. Operation and maintenance (including service contracts, land claims of various types, connection fees, insurance and administration) of a wind turbine amount to between SEK 0.10 and SEK 0.16/kWh.

The cost of building offshore wind power is around SEK 20 million/MW. A large part of the cost is attributable to the grid connection, approximately 10-15 percent of the total cost depending on the distance from land. However, annual production is significantly higher; new wind farms produce 3,900 – 4,800 MWh per MW of installed capacity per year. The operating and maintenance costs are in the range SEK 0.15-0.20 per kWh.

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What is the income from electricity and electricity certificates?

Nord Pool sets different prices for different products. Some electricity companies use the spot price – others use the forward prices established by Nord Pool. Both vary over time. At present, most producers sell their electricity at forward prices for several years in the future. In December 2016, it was possible to conclude an agreement for delivery in 2018 at a price of around SEK 0.22 /kWh

In addition to the revenue from electricity sales, the wind power owner also receives an income from the sale of electricity certificates. The spot price of electricity certificates in 2016 averaged SEK 0.137 per kWh.

The total revenue for the wind power owner in this example is approximately SEK 0.35 /kWh.

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Is new wind power the cheapest form of energy?

According to the industry research body, Elforsk’s, report “Electricity from new and future facilities” produced in 2014, new coal power and new large-scale hydropower were judged to have lowest production costs in Sweden closely followed by onshore wind power. Based on the rapid cost development in wind power in recent years, new wind power is probably now the cheapest form of power to build in Sweden.

Swedish nuclear power facilities are aging and their production will have to be replaced. Nuclear power owners Vattenfall and E.ON stated last year that the issue of new reactors has been  “superseded  by technological development and economic realities”. The potential for new hydropower is limited as there is agreement that the last remaining rivers should be protected from the expansion of hydropower. What remains is bio power, solar power and wind power.

However, with today’s low electricity price (in 2016 the average price was below SEK 0.30 per kWh), no new power generation can be built without subsidy. The drop in the price of electricity is largely attributable to the price trend for fossil fuels and the very low price of emission rights. If fossil-based electricity production paid its socio-economic costs, it would contribute to a fairer electricity price. Until then, renewable electricity generation will require subsidies.

Sweden has among the best conditions in Europe for renewable electricity generation. In Sweden, the production cost of new large-scale renewable electricity generation is in the SEK 0.35 to SEK 0.70 per kWh range. The Finnish and British nuclear reactors under construction are expected to have a production cost of more than SEK 1 per kWh. New nuclear power would have to be subsidised at current electricity prices by SEK 0.70 per kWh while renewables would only require SEK 0.15- SEK 0.40 per kWh.

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How does technological development affect the profitability of investments already made?

Historically, we have seen rapid technological development and declining production costs for wind power. As all electricity certificates are traded in the same market and are subject to the same price, the positive technological development unfortunately penalises early investors. Many of the investments made 5 to 10 years ago are already unprofitable, and if development continues, the investments made today will suffer a similar fate.

There are those who argue that investors have only themselves to blame because they made incorrect forecasts of future electricity and electricity certificate prices. Having said that, very few people have been able to anticipate the rapid technological development or that the system would be extended and its ambition level raised.

Technological development and the lack of a mechanism to deal with it may be the biggest weakness of the electricity certificate system. As wind power’s production cost becomes so low that we start approaching the moment when wind power can stand on its own, it means in theory that the electricity certificate price goes down to zero. For investments already made, this would of course be devastating. That is why it is important to introduce a mechanism under which new investments receive a lower return than previous investments and ultimately no return at all other than the electricity price.

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Are the production costs the same in all countries?

Sweden has among the best conditions in Europe for renewable electricity generation. We can produce wind, water and bio power at a lower cost than other countries. On the other hand, countries in more southern latitudes have better conditions for solar power.

If global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees, extensive investment in renewable energy is required. Sweden has the opportunity to take a leading role in the EU Energy Union and help make Europe’s transition faster and cheaper.

Electricity can be our next major export success and provide significant socio-economic benefits for Sweden. At EU level there are huge savings in building electricity networks between countries and allowing renewable electricity to be produced where the conditions are the best. The EU can save up to SEK 650 billion per year according to a report commissioned by the EU Commission and compiled by Booz & Co.

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How long will the electricity certificate system be needed?

The electricity certificate system has been in place since 2003. The system is not limited to wind power, and not just to new projects only.

Technological development has led to a continuous fall in production costs, but it cannot be assumed that development will continue at the same rate forever. As long as the electricity price is at a low level, financial support will still be needed (regardless of energy type) to enable expansion.

Many facilities in the electricity certificate system have a production cost in the range of SEK 0.60- SEK 0.70 /kWh. Production costs for new wind power continue to decline. Today there are plenty of wind power projects in the country that could be built at a cost level between SEK 0.40 and SEK 0.50 per kilowatt hour. There are also new projects that can be built below SEK 0.40/kWh. The low electricity and electricity certificate prices mean that only the best projects can be realized and the yield requirements are getting lower.

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How many wind turbines will be built in Sweden?

Swedish Wind Energy’s forecast is that it will produce more than 20 TWh wind power in Sweden by 2020 and that there will then be more than 3,800 wind turbines in the country. According to the Energy Agreement 2016, another 18 TWh of renewable electricity production will be added between 2020 and 2030. Swedish Wind Energy estimates that 15 of the 18 TWh will be produced from wind power.

To produce 15 TWh from wind power, approximately 1,500 modern wind turbines are required in good wind conditions, in addition to the 3,800 which will be in operation by 2020. Consequently there would be a total of around 5,300 wind turbines by 2030. The number is comparable to Denmark, where there are more than 5,500 wind turbines already installed in an area that is about 10 percent of Sweden’s.

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What is PPA?

The PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) is an agreement on electricity purchases between an electricity producer and an electricity purchaser. The purchaser is usually an established electricity supplier, but there is nothing to prevent a major player of another type from establishing a PPA directly with a company operating one or more renewable energy plants.

More and more companies that are not active in the energy sector, but which consume large quantities of energy in their operations, have become aware of the opportunities to participate in and contribute to environmentally friendly production of their goods and services using renewable electricity.

By either directly investing in wind power or by signing long-term electricity trading agreements, new production capacity is added to the grid, so these companies are not competing with other consumers for available green electricity generation.

A PPA eliminates a number of potential risks for the final investor. This makes it easier to attract investors such as pension companies. PPAs are, therefore, playing an important role in the financing of electricity generating assets not owned by any of the traditional power companies.

PPAs are not so common in Sweden, but regardless of whether it involves an electricity purchase agreement or direct investment, an inflow of foreign capital is important in stimulating the expansion of Swedish wind power. Domestic capital is not sufficient to realize the potential Sweden has for the expansion of wind power.

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How much will be invested in Sweden?

With the Energy Agreement’s expansion target of 18 TWh between 2020 and 2030, approximately SEK 7 billion will be invested annually for ten years.

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How does wind power contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions?

At present, Swedish electricity generation, 80 percent of which comes from hydropower and nuclear power, has very low carbon dioxide emissions. However, the electricity market is not national, as we have an integrated Nordic electricity market and, increasingly, a European electricity market. The proportion of fossil-based electricity production in the Nordic and, especially, in the European electricity market is still significant. With a continued strong expansion of wind power, Sweden will be able to export emission-free electricity to the rest of Europe as well. Because the impact on the climate is the same regardless of where emissions take place, it is important that Sweden can help reduce emissions even outside our own borders.

There are different methods for calculating the climate benefits of wind power, but the method recommended by the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Environmental Institute is called marginal electricity method, under which wind power replaces the electricity that would otherwise have been produced on the margin, usually from coal-fired power stations. Production of 1 TWh of electricity in coal-fired power stations gives rise to emissions of 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

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How does the expansion of wind power affect consumers’ electricity costs?

All electricity consumers, apart from electricity-intensive industry, pay an electricity certificate fee of approximately SEK 0.32/kWh (2016) to fund additional more renewable electricity in Sweden.

The expansion also helps reduce electricity prices, by approximately SEK 0.03 /kWh for each 10 TWh, which means that the total cost to the consumer has so far not increased, but rather decreased.

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How large are the subsidies for wind power and other forms of power?

As from 2010, no state subsidies are provided for wind power. The technology-neutral electricity certificate system is a common support system for all types of renewable power. Bioenergy, small-scale hydropower, wind power, solar energy, wave energy, geothermal energy and peat are all eligible for electricity certificates.

According to the Energy Agency the average spot price was SEK 137.80 per electricity certificate in 2016. During that year, more than 21 million electricity certificates were issued. If the electricity certificates were traded at spot price, the total amount would be around SEK 2.9 billion, corresponding to SEK 0.032 per kWh for the consumer.

In addition to support via electricity certificates, solar power has additional support through ROT allowance grants or investment allowance, as well as tax reductions (production for own use).

The International Energy Council, the IEA, has estimated that subsidies for oil, coal and gas decreased slightly in 2015. However, total subsidies are still a breathtaking USD 325 billion. That is more than twice the amount given to renewable energy.

The financial support to the fossil industry may look different. It may include tax breaks, preferential land prices or preferential loan terms or subsidies to keep down the price of oil, gas and petrol. Opinions differ on exactly how to calculate what is included in the concept of subsidies, but according to the International Energy Council, the IEA, aid to the fossil industry amounted to USD 325 billion in 2015. In comparison,  USD 150 billion was provided for renewable energy sources.

At present, low coal prices today are keeping electricity prices low in Northern Europe. So far, the EU ETS has not functioned very well.

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How much time does it take for a wind turbine to produce the amount of energy used in its manufacture?

According to available life cycle analyses, a wind turbine produces as much energy as it tool to manufacture it after approximately 8 months. The total energy used to build, power and dispose of a wind turbine equals only three percent of the wind power plant’s total power output.

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How does wind power contribute to employment in Sweden?

The greatest employment effects are in the construction of wind turbines, as there is a need for manpower for the construction of roads, power grids, foundation work, erecting the turbines, etc. When the wind park has been completed, the labour requirement reduces to cover mainly operation and maintenance. There are also many secondary effects of the establishment of a wind power facility, since the people working with the wind park need local services of various kinds, which also generate local tax revenues. This may involve food and lodging or other services. For logistical and economic reasons, every effort should be made to use local labour.

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How much noise does a wind turbine generate?

As development progresses, it has been possible to reduce noise from the gearbox and some machines dispense with a gearbox, in favour of direct drive. The dominant sound of wind turbines occurs when the blades pass through the air. This sound is usually experienced as a hissing or swishing sound very similar to the noise generated by the wind passing through vegetation of various kinds. One difference, however, is that the aerodynamic sound from wind turbines is a throbbing noise, which can sometimes be more easily perceived than other sounds.

There are guidelines for the noise levels that must not be exceeded when wind power is being expanded. Inside homes, the noise level should not exceed 40 dBA. In outdoor areas and in areas with low background noise, the noise level should not exceed 35 dBA.

Research is underway to reduce the impact on residents. With improved blade profiles, the sound from the source is lower and it is already possible to programme new works to minimize the sound during undesired periods, for example when the winds are blowing towards built-up areas.

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What environmental impact does wind power have?

No form of electricity generation is completely free of environmental impact, but wind power is one of the forms of power that gives the least negative impact. The environmental benefits clearly outweigh the negative aspects. Because wind turbines utilize the energy content of the wind for power generation, there are no emissions to land, air or water. Nor does fuel need to be extracted or transported by tankers, pipeline or trucks. No spent fuel needs to be processed or disposed of.

Wind power, however, has a direct impact on the landscape and generates noise that can be perceived as disturbing. Research to date has shown that animals get used to the wind power plants quickly, and studies show, among other things, that birds are not affected differently than they are from other buildings. Through good planning and location, this negative impact can be avoided or minimized.

The most important environmental benefit of wind power is that the electricity produced can replace fossil power, either through reduced imports of such electricity to Sweden, or through increased exports of emission-free electricity from Sweden.

To increase knowledge about the impact of wind power, Vindval (a research collaboration between the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) has conducted studies on the effects of wind power on both humans and animals in the sea and on land. Research is conducted in five areas: People’s interestsBirds and batsMarine lifeMammals on land and Utilities.

The results can be used as a basis for environmental impact assessments as well as for planning and licensing processes for wind farms.

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How are fish and other forms of marine life affected by wind power?

Results from research show, among other things, that the construction of foundations in the sea causes small and temporary effects on marine life.

When the wind turbines are in operation, the impact is mainly in the area around the foundations. The foundations can act as artificial reefs, which often provide better opportunities for both shelter and foraging than the surrounding bottom. When piling and dredging work is being carried out, it must be done with care, for example, choosing the correct time of year to reduce the impact. Vindval, Wind power’s impact on marine life

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What are rare earth metals?

Rare earth metals (sometimes abbreviated as REE for the English term rare earth elements or REM for rare earth metal) are metals whose oxides occur relatively rarely in nature. Neodymium and dysprosium are examples of rare earth metals (there are 17 in total).

Rare earth metals have unique properties that make them excellent for magnets that must withstand high temperatures, for example, in hard drives, electric motors and wind turbines.

Two of the most important rare earth metals are Neodym and Dysprosium. Green technologies represent only a small part of their total use. Electric bicycles are responsible for four percent of the world’s use of Dysprosium, electric cars for three percent and wind power plants for one percent. In the case of neodymium, green technologies account for five percent of its use. More than half of all Neodym and Dysprosium is used for ordinary electric motors and computers.

It is estimated that  electric vehicles will be the single largest users of rare earth metals by 2050.

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How are birds and bats affected by wind power?

Research shows that a certain number of birds will be injured by wind turbines, but that number is only a small fraction of the number killed in other ways. If we were to have 6,000 wind turbines in Sweden, it is estimated that approximately 43,800 birds would die from collisions with wind turbines every year. This compares with the approximately 17 million birds that die annually in traffic, collide with windows or are killed by cats.

The risk seems to be greatest for heavy-flying birds of prey, but here too the number injured by wind turbines is small. By comparison, one of the total 217 golden eagles that have died in recent years died from non-natural causes, four were linked to wind power, while 79 were killed by trains and 11 from illegal hunting.

Bats hunt insects that accumulate at protruding points in the terrain (a behaviour known as hilltopping), and this includes wind farms. This phenomenon occurs only under certain conditions and at certain seasons. The risks are greatest during the summer months. The winds must be so light that the turbine either stands still or rotates only very slowly. The night temperature must be fairly high since bats are active at night. Vindval, Impact of wind power on birds and bats

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How are people affected by wind turbine shadows?

When the sun is high in the sky during the day, the shadow from wind turbines becomes relatively short, stretching for no more than a few hundred metres. It is highly unusual to find inhabited buildings this close to a wind turbine. If the wind farm is about a kilometre away, there will be no shadows from the blades even if they pass in front of the sun. The reason is that the at that distance the blades do not cover the entire disc of the sun, so the shadow effect is significantly reduced. The shadows are perceptible about 1.5 kilometres away, but only in the form of a diffused change in the light.

When calculating shadow effects, the starting point is the astronomical “maximum possible shadow effect” , which is the time when the sun theoretically shines between sunrise and sunset with a cloudless sky and when the rotor surface is perpendicular to solar radiation.

The shadow effect can be estimated using statistics on hours of sunshine, wind direction, and so on. According to the guidelines, the shadow effect in a sensitive area should not exceed 8 hours per year and no more than 30 minutes per day. Exposure to rapid shadow changes may cause temporary irritation and distraction, but does not give rise to damage or permanent adverse effects.

The vast majority of modern wind turbines are equipped with automatic controls that shut down the turbine when shadow disturbance could occur.

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Who is responsible if an accident occurs at a wind farm?

It is the owner of the wind farm who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all rules and regulations are followed and that accidents are prevented. The owner is also responsible for the coordination of work environment issues.

If service is the only activity that occurs at the wind power plant and it is carried out by a single company, this company is responsible for the service technicians who perform the work on the wind farm. However, the owner is obliged to ensure that permanent equipment and other equipment is on hand so that any person working there (even if not an employee of the owner) is not exposed to risk, ill health or accidents. The owner is also responsible for setting warning signs inside and outside the wind farm. Work Environment Authority – about wind power

The Swedish Energy Agency, the Work Environment Authority, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the National Electrical Safety Board, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Protection Agency have prepared a joint paper on the work environment and safety at wind power stations.

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What rules apply to access to wind farms during construction?

The construction regulations, Construction Work AFS 1999: 03 state: “A site or area in which construction or installation work is carried out shall be clearly defined and easily identifiable. Signs must be place in suitable places around a construction site and in its immediate vicinity. ”

The purpose of the signs is to limit access for third parties to a construction site where they may pose a risk to the workers. This is in line with the regulations of the Housing, Building and Planning Agency BBR 2008, 2: 3, where ground workplaces must be arranged so that access for unauthorised persons is made difficult and the risk of personal injury is limited.

Ultimately, it is a matter for employers and BAS-U at the construction site to conduct a risk assessment. If they consider that all unauthorised persons must be kept away from the workplace to ensure adequate safety, they can fence off the workplace and also institute access control if they consider this necessary.

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How dangerous is ice throw?

In some weather conditions, ice can build up on the blades and then break off and be thrown. Normally, the wind turbine automatically shuts down if ice forms on the rotor blades, and so the ice rarely falls any great distance from the turbine. So far no person has been hit by falling ice, but adjacent buildings and cars have been damaged.

Although the chance of being hit met is judged to be lower than, for example, with falling icicles from rooftops at temperatures around zero when the risk of ice breaking away from the rotor blades increases. If anyone has to be in the vicinity (< 300 m) of the wind turbine in such weather conditions, they should approach the turbine from upwind, i.e. with the wind at their back, since ice throw is only likely to occur downwind of the wind turbine.
Vindforsk: Icing of Wind Turbines

The Swedish Energy Agency, the Work Environment Authority, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the National Electrical Safety Board, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Protection Agency have prepared a joint paper on working environment and safety at wind power stations.

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What is the Machinery Directive?

As a wind turbine is considered to be a machine, it is covered by the Machinery Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC). The purpose of the Directive is to set harmonised standards in the design, manufacture and operation and maintenance of machinery to avoid accidents involving industrial machinery. This ensures proper protection for health and safety and free movement of machinery within the EU.

In Sweden, it is the Work Environment Authority that checks that the standards set by the Machinery Directives are met. The manufacturer must carry out a risk assessment taking into account all the hazards that a machine is associated with or can generate. If there are risks that cannot be eliminated during design and construction, the manufacturer must inform of the owner of these, such as the risk of ice throw. EU Commission: Guidance on the application of the Machinery Directive

The Swedish Energy Agency, the Work Environment Authority, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the National Electrical Safety Board, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Protection Agency have prepared a joint paper on working environment and safety at wind power stations.

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What is CE marking?

A CE marking guarantees machine conformity with the standards of the Machinery Directive. It is the manufacturer, the manufacturer’s representative or the person responsible for placing the machine on the market who CE marks the product.

If the Work Environment Authority finds that a CE-marked wind turbine has such deficiencies as to endanger safety, the Work Environment Authority may prohibit the use of the wind turbine in question or its release onto the market.

The Swedish Energy Agency, the Work Environment Authority, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the National Electrical Safety Board, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Protection Agency have prepared a joint paper on working environment and safety at wind power stations.

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What are the parts of a wind turbine?

Source: Skåne Wind Power Academy

/text in diagram/

Vindmätare = anemometer

Vaxellåda = gearbox

Generator = generator

Girmotor = gyro motor

Totalhöjd = total height

Svepyta = swept area

Navhöjd = hub height

Maskinhus = nacelle

Rotor = rotor

Rotordiameter = rotor diameter

Torn = tower

Fundament = foundation

Transformator = transformer

Styrsystem = control system

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How do you get permission to build wind power?

Building a large onshore wind farm requires a license under the Environmental Code and the approval of the municipality. Applications for licenses under the Environmental Code are examined by the County Administrative Board.

Few operations are subject to such careful scrutiny as wind power. One difficulty in considering the application is to weigh the benefit, which is global or national, against the intrusion, which is local. For wind power, access to good wind conditions is crucial. Today, wind power is often forced away from good wind locations by over-strict interpretation of the species conservation regulation, arbitrary application of municipal approval (the municipal veto) and the Armed Forces prohibited areas. When wind turbines are forced into areas with poorer wind conditions, more wind turbines are necessary, and this leads to greater intrusion and increased costs for the same output. More information about the application and examination process is available at Vindlov.

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How do you get planning permission for a smaller wind power facility?

In order to build a wind farm that is not licensed under the Environmental Code, planning permission is required. Planning permission is granted by the municipality concerned according to the provisions of the Planning and Building Act. The planning permission regulates the design and location of wind turbines.

For wind turbines with turbine diameters not exceeding 3 metres which are not mounted on a house and with a maximum total height of 20 metres or placed at a distance from the boundary greater than the power plant’s height above the ground, no planning permission is required. More information about regulations for the construction of wind turbines is available at Vindlov.

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How large a proportion of wind power projects are realised?

It usually takes 7 to 8 years to get a license for a large wind farm. The licenses is usually valid for 5 years and it is very difficult to get an extension.

In Swedish Wind Energy’s forecast, we expect that 10 percent of the projects that have been granted a license, and 5 percent of the projects still in the licensing process, will be realized within the next three years.

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What are good wind conditions and why are they important?

For wind power, access to good wind conditions is crucial. When wind turbines are forced into areas with poorer wind conditions, more wind turbines are necessary, and this leads to greater intrusion and increased costs for the same output.

Today, wind power is often forced away from good wind locations by over-strict interpretation of species conservation regulations, arbitrary application of municipal approval (the municipal veto) and the Armed Forces prohibited areas.

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What is the municipal veto?

Since August 2009, municipalities have had a decision right which is reserved for wind farms that are licensed under the Environmental Code, known as the municipal veto. The change in the regulations is intended to simplify and shorten the processing time and was implemented to promote the expansion of wind power in Sweden. The intended simplification did not materialise.

The introduction of the “municipal veto” in MB 16: 4 has made the licensing process more difficult and extended processing times, contrary to the aim of the Act. The formulation of the Act allows municipalities to apply the regulations as a veto, with the ability to negotiate financial requirements that lack support in the legislation. The municipalities are not required to justify their decision and no appeal is possible. The veto involves unpredictability for all parties, both for the neighbours who may have views on the establishment and for the project planners.

The Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions have jointly produced guidance on how municipalities should act in assessing applications for wind power. The guidance states that the municipality will assess whether the wind power installation in question can be regarded as an appropriate use of land or water from a long-term sustainability perspective, and that the municipality’s decisions should be clear and should be justified. The municipality should not impose conditions in the approval decision. The guidance points to the municipal land-use plan as an important instrument for planning for wind power. All this is good, but the guidance is not binding and the major shortcoming, lack that the municipality’s decision cannot be appealed remains.

The responsibility of the project planner is great and openness and dialogue with communities and neighbours is crucial for a successful wind power project. It is also perfectly reasonable, and desirable, that a municipality has a serious and important role in building new wind power. But the use of municipal veto is incompatible with the principles of legality and objectivity that are central to the licensing process and all other exercises of public authority. Legislation must be amended to ensure legal certainty and predictability for all concerned.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Energy Agency propose in a report to the government that the provision on municipal approval for wind farms, the municipal veto, should be abolished. The purpose is to inject greater predictability and legal certainty into the decision-making process. Under the proposal, the amended legislation could come into force during 2018.

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Why is the species conservation regulation a problem for wind power?

The world needs renewable electricity, but the expansion of renewables faces many obstacles. At present, it is very difficult to get wind power licenses where there are birds. It is not the impact on the bird population that is assessed, but the risk that individual birds may be injured has become decisive.

In Paris, the countries of the world agreed to slow down the current rate of climate change. If global warming can be limited to 1.5 degrees, all parts of society will need to adapt, for example, extensive investment in renewable electricity generation is required. Wind power can play a central role in this transition.

Few operations are subject to such careful scrutiny as wind power. One difficulty in considering the application is to weigh the benefit, which is global or national, against the intrusion, which is local. For wind power, access to good wind conditions is crucial. Today, wind power is often forced away from good wind locations by over-strict interpretation of the species conservation regulation, arbitrary application of municipal approval (the municipal veto) and the Armed Forces prohibited areas. When wind turbines are forced into areas with poorer wind conditions, more wind turbines are necessary, and this leads to greater intrusion and increased costs for the same output.

In Sweden there are large land areas with good wind conditions. But it is extremely difficult to get permission to build. Among other things, the species conservation assessments are a major obstacle to wind power as the criterion is the risk of injury to individual birds rather than the impact on the bird population as a whole.

Sweden needs a more predictable and environmentally more relevant assessment of permissibility in areas where birds are present. The Swedish Species Conservation Regulation needs to be amended to protect species, not individuals. Preferably through a minor adjustment so that Swedish legislation conforms more closely with the EU Birds Directive.

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What is the Armed Forces wind power prohibition?

The Armed Forces are permitted to give their views on all decisions to allow the establishment of wind turbines. Due to their strong position in environmental legislation, the Armed Forces have in practice gained a right to veto new wind turbines. This de facto right of veto is used actively, often citing “national security” when a wind power project is prohibited. This makes it impossible to test the reasonableness of the Armed Forces’ position and also prevents the wind power project planner from changing the design of the wind farm in order to get it approved.

In 2010, the Armed Forces invoked its veto and imposed a prohibition on wind power for a 40-mile radius around its airports (prohibited areas). Since then, the restrictions have been widened so that minimum sector altitude (MSA) areas, firing ranges and areas around weather radar stations exclude wind power. Unfortunately, these are often areas of most favourable wind conditions. In total, the Armed Forces’ wind power restrictions south of Gävle now correspond to more than half the land area (51 percent).

In connection with the introduction of the prohibited areas, the Armed Forces began to appeal licenses already granted (the majority of most of the Planning and Building Act cases from the period before 2009) which had previously met no objections. If the Armed Forces’ right is upheld, the wind turbines will be demolished. Several of these cases have been appealed to the government, but the government has often fully accepted the Armed Forces’ position. Without questioning whether a single proposed wind turbine may affect the Armed Forces’ operations. Without considering the applicants’ right to legal certainty and predictability in the process.

The Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI was commissioned to make an international comparison on military and wind power issues. The report shows that the Swedish military have been granted space around air bases on a scale that does not resemble the situation in any other country. The investigation could not account for reasons why the Swedish military should require such major restrictions on wind power.

The Armed Forces’ inability to coexist with wind power is a Swedish phenomenon. Wind power is common throughout the world, and a modern air force should be able to handle these wind turbines. It should be obvious that the Armed Forces must be able to operate in the environment they are in, which at the present time and in the future will be a landscape with wind power.

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Why do the Armed Forces say no to radar-based technology to control aircraft warning obstacle lights on wind turbines?

When wind turbines with a height greater than 150 metres are installed , high-intensity aircraft warning lights are required, and these can disturb local residents. County administrative boards and municipalities request or require that aircraft warning lights should be extinguished when no aircraft are nearby. The Swedish Transport Agency has given a dispensation for radar controlled aircraft warning lights, and there have been no complaints about the technology.

The Swedish Transport Agency usually prefers to accept the views of the Swedish Armed Forces, who were initially positive about the technology. During 2014, the Armed Forces launched an investigation into need-driven aircraft warning lighting. The Armed Forces investigation was delayed by a couple of months at a time for more than two years. In the summer of 2016, the Armed Forces announced that they advised against the use of radar-controlled aircraft warning lighting, without, however, presenting the detailed results of the investigation that had been in progress for so long. The Armed Forces cited “aviation safety aspects”, “risk of dissemination of information about national security” and “tests”.

The aviation safety aspects are concerned with the fact that future plans may involve “stealth” technology that will prevent radar detection – in which case the aircraft warning lights would not operate. The argument is weak. The Armed Forces have access to a detailed obstacle database that should be able to provide information on the whereabouts of wind turbines stand when the stealth technology is activated.

The risk of dissemination of information involves the possibility of gathering information about aircraft movements from the current Norwegian / Danish radar systems and that the information could end up in the hands of a foreign power, such as Norway or Denmark. The argument is weak. There has long been open information about access routes to most military airfields.

It is unclear what tests the Armed Forces are referring to. They claim they have taken part in recent tests of a radar-controlled aircraft warning lighting system. The argument is weak. Those who deliver the current systems are unaware that any such tests have been conducted.

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