The power system

The use of electricity is increasing everywhere: industrialised countries are still finding more application areas for electricity, while developing countries need electricity for their development.

Renewable electricity from wind power, solar energy and wave power is the way forward. These energy sources need to be complemented by hydropower and electricity from biofuels. As new technology is developed and comes into practical use, costs fall and the prospects for commercial uptake improve.

Research needed to maintain adequate electricity systems in the future

The Swedish power system is changing. Carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced, and renewable alternative production facilities must be built. About 90 % of Sweden's electricity production, which at present supplies almost 150 TWh of electricity per year, comes from nuclear power and hydropower, with the remaining 10 % being supplied by fossil-fired and biofuel-fired production, and a small proportion of wind power. The government's target is that electricity production from biomass, windpower, solar energy and possibly wave energy shall increase by 17 TWh by 2006 in comparison with the production quantity in 2002.

Sweden has good prospects for production of renewable electricity

Today (2006) Sweden produces about 1 TWh of wind power per year, although conditions are favourable for increasing this production. The government target is that it should be possible to increase wind power production to 10 TWh by 2015. The overall potential for wind power is many times larger than this. There are several other possible methods of renewable electricity production, such as solar cells and wave power, but the costs of such production are still far too high for such methods to be competitive. As electricity production methods that are more vulnerable to the vagaries of the weather start to provide an increasing proportion of a country's electricity, so is there a greater need to trade electricity with neighbouring countries and physically to transfer electricity between different regions. Development of new transmission technologies, such as HVDC links and other controllable links, allows the power system to be developed in a cost-efficient and energy-efficient manner, while at the same time meeting the basic requirement of a reliable supply of electricity. Pressure is increasing for greater security against major power supply failures, which requires development of technology for local production and for standalone production and supply in emergency conditions.

Sweden has a very strong electrical power industry, both in terms of various production technologies and in terms of transmission. Most of the industry's products are exported. As industry is involved in research at an early stage, the power industry can show several excellent examples of commercialisation of research results.