The largest country in Northern Europe, Sweden, is famous for many things, from the beautiful sceneries, historical sites, food, and liberal culture. Remarkably is the environmental consciousness that runs through most of its citizens and residents. The clean streets and green sites say a lot about how well the Swedish know the value of natural resources, and this is evident in their adoption of renewable energy on a large scale.
Renewable energy in Sweden has developed over time, majorly from hydropower and bioenergy. This growth can be linked to the availability of moving water and biomass from its 63% forest cover. The topography also encourages the use of hydropower. In addition, there are 3600 wind turbines scattered all around Sweden capable of powering 30,000 homes. Wind power constitutes 17% of the renewable energy used in Sweden.
As of 2019, the supply of power in Sweden was primarily from hydropower plants in the northern region of Sweden and nuclear power plants in the southern. Southern Sweden is busier and requires more power than their nuclear power plants can provide, so the northern region generates more power for the south.
The Growth of Renewable Energy in Sweden.
Sweden has been making significant efforts to invest in renewable energy and utilize it for day-to-day activities. Currently, up to 54.6% of the energy used in Sweden is from renewable energy sources. In 2016, the world’s first electrified road was opened in Sweden, they also use waste, biomass, solar power, wind power, and hydropower more than most countries.
Sweden was the first country to meet its renewable energy targets set by the European Union (EU) for 2020. This was achieved eight years ahead of time due to the continuous input to renewable energy and efforts to sustain it. The government of Sweden seeks to make the country climate neutral by 2045 and hopes to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040. While hydropower (45%) and nuclear power plants (30%) take the lead (more than 75%) in the generation of renewable energy-based power, wind turbines come in third, before bioenergy and solar power.
Bioenergy sources have a significant growth in Sweden. They sometimes run out of biowaste and have to import to meet their needs. Power generated from biowaste is usually used for heating, which is a very significant need in Sweden. Up to 93% of residential and 83% of commercial buildings get their heat generated from biofuel and waste through the district heating sector.
Who/What is driving the growth of renewable energy in Sweden? Many factors are associated with the demand for power by industries, supportive policies, and the quick adoption of renewable energy technologies. The industrial sector of Sweden is a large one, needing a lot of power supply continuously. With the availability and development of renewable energy, the Swedish government can do a lot to meet the targets ahead.
Policies Aiding The Growth Of Renewable Energy In Sweden
The high carbon taxes and cheap energy prices are helping the growth of renewable energy in Sweden. However, climate change has been a great concern as many industries in Sweden are capable of carbon emissions. The carbon tax has been an excellent way to address the issues of emissions in Sweden and give incentives and opportunities for renewable energy alternatives. It is levied on all forms of fossil fuel relative to their carbon content.
Also, the Swedish Energy Agency, which has existed since 1998, was recently commissioned to find strategies to include more solar power in the mix to make the 100% renewable energy target for 2040. Furthermore, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Energy Agency have been developing national strategies to build sustainable wind power.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in Sweden
Renewable projects continue to spring up in Sweden. An example is a partnership between Uniper Engineering and Fortum eNext in three projects relating to Nordic hydro and physical trading optimization, hydrogen, and wind and solar development. They plan to complete it in 2025 and have gone past planning the coming together to offer services to utilities and energy-intensive companies.
Vattenfall, a government-owned company, also announced in 2019 to upgrade the hydropower plants and increase their capacity to 600 megawatts by 2023. It is very significant to Sweden’s goals for renewable energy, and the output is almost equivalent to that of 100 wind turbines. Currently, up to 20 power plants have been upgraded, and 450MW more have been generated already.
More so, in Ludivika city, 48 apartments have been linked as prosumers forming an energy community. Each has solar photovoltaics, thermal energy storage devices, and heat pumps to constantly use and produce renewable energy. In addition, despite being more of a collection of 1970 houses, they have smart meters which function effectively for an efficient power supply.
Experts’ Predictions on Renewable Energy in Sweden
With the impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and the trends of events, forecasts predict a CAGR of 2% in the Swedish renewable energy market by 2025. This prediction is due to policies and initiatives that are in support of renewable energy. Also, hydropower is likely to dominate the market as more upgrades are being planned and organized. However, experts also feel that the maintenance of renewable energy systems would limit the market.
There may have been concerns on how Sweden would handle the fluctuations in power from renewable energy, but these concerns are now being addressed. Sweden is known for its fast adaptation to technologies, and this has helped them grow. So far, the risks associated with diving into new technologies have been properly managed and implemented in the proper management of renewable energy systems.
The Netherlands (also known as Holland in some languages, English inclusive) is known for its windmills and tulips. Its capital, Amsterdam, is a place to reckon. However, other things that make the Netherlands popular are heavily reliant on energy. As the second-largest exporter of food and beer, there are many energy-consuming set-ups. Also, there is the need to keep factories and homes up and running.
The energy sector in the Netherlands bases majorly on natural gas and oil. As of 2018, the contributions to energy generation were: 42% from natural gas, 37% from petrol, 11% from coal, 5% from biomass, and the remaining 5% shared among solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and nuclear sources. The reliability of these sources over time seems to make them seem supposedly sustainable. However, global warming, earthquakes while producing natural gas, and climate change are still of great concern.
How far the Netherlands have come in Renewable Energy
One limiting factor to the progress in adopting renewable energy in the Netherlands is the topography. The Netherlands in its entirety is not below sea level, but a significant part of it is. This geographical situation is not welcoming to the use of hydropower.
Also, many government subsidies to invest in renewable energy existing in other countries like Denmark and Germany are not in the Netherlands. The start-up cost for renewable energy projects is high, so not many Dutch people are encouraged to go into it.
However, the status of renewable energy generation and usage in the Netherlands has recorded some progress. The amount of energy produced from renewable energy sources in the Netherlands increased from 6.6% in 2017 to 7.38% in 2018 and 8.6% in 2019. Nevertheless, the targets are still far off.
Policies Affecting the Growth of RE in the Netherlands
The law in the Netherlands has expressed concern over the light level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The Climate Act aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 49% by 2030 and 95% by 2050. For this to be met, some projects are ongoing, majorly for offshore wind turbine applications. Also, the Dutch government policy on renewable energy includes a plan to close the only nuclear power plant in the Netherlands by 2024.
Lately, countries in Europe have started to work towards meeting the goals for renewable energy development. The Renewable Energy Directive in the European Union was formerly to the end that by 2020, the final energy consumption of countries in the EU would be up to 20% renewable. However, can we confidently say the same motivation pushes the Netherlands?
The target by the European Union in 2018 was to have up to 32% of total energy from renewable sources in all its member state countries by 2030. Unfortunately, the Netherlands has not attained its share. In 2017, the Netherlands produced 6.6% of its total energy from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind turbines. The target at that time was 14%, so the Netherlands failed to meet it.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in the Netherlands
Even though the Netherlands is not on track for its renewable energy goals, it has started making plans to eliminate natural gas production and consumption. These plans favour the development of renewable energy. The most popular projects in the Netherlands are the offshore wind turbine projects, before solar projects. We will discuss some examples below.
- The first large-scale wind farm in the Netherlands is being revamped. Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farm is the wind farm in question. Commissioned 15 years ago (2006), it started with only a capacity of 108 MW as a demonstration project and was the first large-scale wind farm project in the Netherlands. BlackRock Real Assets closed a 4.8 billion dollars investment fund for renewable power early this year, and some of it has sponsored other projects. A part of the fund, as well, would be used to refurbish this wind farm of NoordzeeWind (owned by Shell). Once completed, it has the potential to boost the use of renewable power in the Netherlands.
- Borssele 1 and 2 is Ørsted’s first offshore wind farm in the Netherlands and is located on the Dutch North Sea. It has a capacity of 752 MW and is, therefore, the largest wind farm in the Netherlands. A highlight of this project is that its completion was in 2020, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CEO of Ørsted, it is an achievement. This project has enough power for 1 million Dutch homes.
- The collaboration between Kronos Solar Projects and Greencells in the Netherlands is currently beginning to expand. The partnership has started a new 14 MW solar project at Voorst in the second quarter of this year (2021). Greencells has been actively working in the Netherlands since 2018. The company has completed up to 332 MW projects individually and with other collaborators. Kronos Solar Projects are also renowned for its investments in solar projects up to 290 MW in more than one country.
Experts’ Projections on RE in the Netherlands
The experts have it that the total share of renewable energy that was 8.7% in 2019 would eventually increase to 25% in 2030. In the same way, experts expect that the 18% share of renewable electricity in 2019 would have increased to 75% by 2030. However, the expectation for the renewable share of energy used for heating should move only from 7% in 2019 to 13% in 2030.
Also, the growth in the renewable energy market has to take a good turn. This is because the prices of renewable energy are steadily decreasing. This decrease is likely to keep the renewable energy market sustained even without the government’s input. For example, biomass used to take up to 60.7% of the renewable energy usage in the Netherlands. However, recent investments and projects by Vattenfall, Siemens, and the likes in wind energy projects should turn things around.
As the Netherlands has shown an increasing dependence on natural gas, it shows that the country needs more and more energy sources. The Netherlands used to be a reliable exporter of natural gas decades ago but has become an importer. As developments begin to increase, the pollution of the atmosphere with emissions is also increasing. Therefore, the Climate Agreement Policies need to be looked into further.
In our bid to de-carbonise the energy sector, one hundred and forty-plus years after the innovation of harnessed electricity, sustainability is now an overarching factor in the energy arena. There’s a need to explore new opportunities for most energy suppliers who hope to remain relevant in the future of the energy market.
The Italian energy sphere is mostly constrained by its lack of large geography. Still, it makes up for this with the concurrent expansion of its renewables integration into its generation mix used to create infrastructure to support sustainable energy. It has a net carbon neutrality target it wishes to meet by 2050.
The capacity of Italy’s renewables sector is estimated to reach at least 60GW by 2030, rising from its current 36GW at a 4.5% compound annual growth, exclusive of hydropower. This ability to circumvent obvious constraints has attracted different actors with growing interest in the energy sustainability field. Investments are seeing huge rises; for example, in June 2020, the 7 Seas Med floating wind project valued at €750m began.
Although Italy is making great strides towards sustainability within its energy sector, there is still a lot to be achieved. The International Energy Agency reports that more than 45% of the energy supply in Italy still comes from oil and coal, while importations cover up for further energy demands.
Suppliers have seen this opportunity and are making the best of these potentials by filling the supply gap.
Understanding the Role of Sustainable Energy Suppliers In Italy.
The supply chain of the Italian electricity system makes provision for four elements in the energy market; production, transmission, distribution and sales. Energy companies can work in any of these areas or all these areas, allowing customers to choose their preferred supplier.
Electricity production or generation happens at big power plants which have to be connected to the national transmission network. In Italy, the Gestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE) is responsible for regulating renewable energy production.
Terna handles the transmission of electricity in Italy. According to Terna, they “occupy the fundamental segment of transmission with a role of Transmission System Operator (TSO) and Independent System Operator (ISO) in a monopoly regime and on the basis of a government concession”.
Various suppliers act as middlemen, buying energy in the wholesale market and selling it to customers. At the same time, there are other suppliers who produce their own forms of energy, such as EnviTec Biogas AG. The market is very competitive.
What pushes these energy suppliers to become ‘sustainable’ is the type of energy in the demand and supply cycle. Let’s explain, suppliers can’t control the exact amount of power customers use, but they can heavily influence the type of power bought by customers.
So, a sustainable energy supplier is so-called because they concentrate on purchasing or producing and selling sustainable energy like biogas, hydropower, solar photovoltaics, etc. This happens when the suppliers match the type and amount of electricity bought by customers to the exact type and amount they buy from the wholesale market or produce themselves.
Now, suppose the electricity the suppliers buy/produce is 100% sustainable. In that case, the electricity the customers will buy and use will also be 100% sustainable, thus influencing the metamorphosis of the energy market within Italy.
The major player in the Italian electricity generation market used to be Enel, which held 28% of the market share in 2011. There was a mandatory sale law for competition regulation which allowed Enel’s share to decline from 49% to the current percentage between 2003 and 2011. This also allowed smaller operators to enter the market and increase their shares exponentially. These competitors are Edison, Eni, E. ON and others.
Distribution is carried out by a handful of operators via concessions from the government, with Enel still having a majority hold of 86% through its distributary network operator DNO.
The Italian electricity market has a high consumption rate requiring dependence on energy imports and higher prices. To solve this, Italy has come up with a regulatory framework in its National Energy Strategy. It includes the liberalisation of supply, distribution, trading of electricity and unbundling of transmission activities.
Within Europe, Italy is one of the primary markets for investors because it provides an ideal climate for technological development as far as the energy sector is concerned. Saipem recently signed a renewable energy deal with Agnes and Qint’X to co-develop a floating solar PV technology with an offshore wind capacity of 450MW in the Italian Adriatic Sea.
The Italian Power Play
In Europe, Italy is one country with a very intriguing habit of setting and beating its own targets on renewable energy. It has entered into several technological collaborations to push further energy advances, such as that with the UAE aptly named InnovitalyUAE. Also, partnerships with Areva to invest in nuclear energy, which is considered clean energy, and its private investments with the solar-power multinational Sonnedix to promote renewable energy sector expansion.
This distinct European country wants to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 80 – 95% relative to its 1995 levels by 2050, hoping to use more sustainable energy within its borders. This gives these sustainable energy suppliers the upper hand in dictating the Italian energy market prices altogether.
Additionally, Italy depends on a lot of net energy import with high energy prices, which bodes well for energy suppliers. In 2012, 82% of the national energy demand was met by net imports while national production from gas, oil and renewables stood at a mere 4.3%, 3.5% and 11.1%, respectively.
However, Italy is one of the countries with the lowest energy intensity levels, meaning final energy use has been declining in recent years with improvements in electricity generation. They also have promising technological advancements evident in one of the world’s most efficient combined-cycle gas turbines parks.
Sustainable energy suppliers are at the top of the food chain in the Italian energy sector because Italy now relies immensely on sustainable energy to meet its set targets. This pushes customers, consumers and prosumers alike to focus on sustainability in energy production and use. The incentives also offered are a good motivator to continuously tow this line.