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SWEDISH RENEWABLES CAN REPLACE NUCLEAR BY 2020

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#639
09/12/2005
Article

(December 9, 2005) A report released in November by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) states that the country's renewable energy producers could produce enough power by 2020 to replace the capacity currently provided by nuclear power plants.

(639.5733) WISE Sweden - The SSNC asked Swedish energy producers how much new renewable energy capacity they could deliver to consumers by the year 2020 and the responses received indicate that there is great potential for truly clean energy systems to replace nuclear capacity as it stands.

New renewable energy capacity coupled with more effective use of energy efficiency could replace all the power currently obtained from nuclear power stations in Sweden and nearly all that from the fossil fuel industry as well. CO2 emissions would also be reduced by 50%, not including the transport sector.

The renewable energy trade organisations released their own projections that demonstrate, with minor changes in the current national energy policy, the possibility of replacing all nuclear power and almost all use of fossil fuels within important consumer sectors like industry, service and housing.

In a press release the Secretary General of SSNC, Svante Axelsson, called on the government to let go of the unsustainable and environmentally damaging energy production industries of yesteryear, and to seriously open the way for renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources that have a future.

Commenting on the report, SSNC said that the government's ambivalence to the issue is reflected in the public's opinion. A recent poll conducted by the SIFO institute suggested that a majority of Swedish citizens, 70 percent, want renewable energy whereas just 13 percent were in favour of nuclear energy and fossil fuels, however only a fifth of those polled believed that it is possible to replace the old energy systems with new environmentally sound replacements.

The responses from renewable energy producers in Sweden
Current production of energy from sun, wind and biomass is at 11 terra watt hours (TWh) for electricity and 92 TWh for heating but by the year 2020 it is expected to rise to 88 TWh for electricity and 164 TWh for heating. The total increased renewable capacity, 252 TWh, is comparative to current levels of energy consumption in Sweden today, which stand at 311 TWh excluding the transport sector. The capacity gap between current levels of consumption and projected levels of new renewables capacity, 59 TWh, is less than that produced by hydropower to date (about 70 TWh).

Energy supplies from wind power could increase from 1 TWh today to 25 TWh but the potential for solar energy in Sweden would remain low at just 2 TWh. The renewable source with most potential is bio energy and that is projected to increase to 170 TWh. As important to the increase in renewable capacity is energy efficiency, which could free an estimated 62 TWh. This is the level that the European Union has said is possible and the level it wants the Union as a whole to attain.

The production capacity given by the energy producers is however conditional. In order for the suppliers to be able to provide the levels promised some pledges featured in the energy policy must be fulfilled. For example, it remains difficult to obtain permission to build wind power stations and CO2 taxes must stay at least as high as current levels and includes all industry and all combined power and heating plants - the renewable energy industry is of course exempted from this tax but so it the nuclear industry, although not (yet) legally recognised as clean energy (thankfully), it is taxed differently from other polluting industries.

According to SSNC, the demands made by renewable energy producers are not especially far-reaching or politically difficult to deliver. But the impact on the environment will be huge, with a likely decline of 50% in carbon dioxide emissions.

Climate change is a global problem, which will require a truly global solution but instead of waiting for others to act, SSNC is calling on Sweden to take a leadership role immediately. The organization wants Sweden's politicians and companies to work towards inspiring others and instigating real progress in the international arena. Few countries are as well positioned as Sweden to create a society built on renewable energy. We are relatively rich in bio-fuel, mostly in the form of waste products from the forestry industry, we have great potential to use energy more effectively and we have a good geographical location to exploit wind power. The only thing we seem to lack is brave politicians.

Source: Report from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, November 2005 (Available in Swedish at http://www.snf.se/pdf/rap-klimat-energipusslet.pdf)

Contact: Eia Liljegren-Palmaer, WISE Sweden at Info@folkkampanjen.se