Sweden is an Energy Leader: 10 Key Points

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Ever wanted to know all about the energy history of Sweden? Probably not, but it is actually a pretty interesting history. Additionally, as you can see in the graph above, Sweden is an energy leader when it comes to CO2 emissions per GDP and CO2 emissions per capita.

Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories recently gave us quite an introduction of Sweden’s energy history, situation today, and plans for the future over on Climate Progress. You can read the full piece, Evolving energy systems: The Swedish story, over there if you want to read the whole thing. If you just want a snapshot, I’ve pulled out some especially interesting points.

  1. Stemming from a public referendum in 1980 triggered by the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, Sweden decided to phase out and put a ban on new construction of nuclear reactors. This was one of only 6 referendums in Sweden’s history. (Other referendums refer to which side of the road to drive on, prohibition, the country’s pension system, and joining the EU and the Economic and Monetary Union of the EU.) Sweden didn’t meet its deadline of shutting down all of its remaining nuclear reactors by January 1, 2011, but a moratorium on nuclear expansion remains and one would expect that the country will phase out nuclear sooner or later.
  2. Sweden put a cap on CO2 in 1988! CO2 taxes of 105 oere/kgCO2 (US$150/ton!) have brought in about $4 billion/year in revenues since 1991. “This is almost as much as is generated by regular energy taxes.”
  3. National greenhouse gas emissions were about 18% lower in 2009 than 1991, exceeding its Kyoto requirement. “Emissions of SOx are down 70% and NOx down 50%.”
  4. Electricity demand has remained steady since 1991 despite economic growth of 60%. (In other words, energy efficiency is the name of the game in Sweden.)
  5. “Heating energy fuel choices in buildings have been managed very aggressively. Oil’s share has dropped from 25% to about less than 10%.   Electric heating’s share of energy in the household sector has been trimmed by 30%. District heating, fueled primarily with biomass has picked up most of the slack.  Between 1980 and 2010 district heating went from essentially 100% oil to essentially 0% oil.”
  6. 1/3 of Sweden’s energy supply is from renewable sources (if you include hydro). That’s more than any other EU country.
  7. Sweden plans to get 50% of its energy supply from renewable sources by 2020 and plans to have vehicles completely free of fossil fuels by 2030.
  8. “Overall energy intensity (presumably energy per GDP) shall be reduced by 20% between 2008 and 2020.”
  9. In 2020, it plans to emit 40% of the greenhouse gases it emitted in 1990.
  10. It plans to have zero net emissions (i.e. be carbon neutral) by 2050.

Related Stories:

1. Europe’s Largest Wind Farm Gets Approval in Sweden
2. 250,000 Swedes Heat a Building with Their Bodies
3. EU Exceeds Target for 20% Renewable Energy by 2020

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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