The Swedish government has announced plans for a massive expansion of the country’s offshore wind power generation capacity, targeting capacity nearly equal to the country’s current annual electricity consumption. Announcing the new program, the government said it had formulated the country’s first comprehensive marine plan, but would seek to update the plan as more offshore areas are identified.
Sweden’s annual electricity consumption is around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, with only around 200 MW of generation capacity coming from offshore wind. However, the government has announced an aggressive plan for faster expansion of offshore wind power by adding 20-30 TWh of annual generation in the first phase. Anticipating that growth in electricity demand will accelerate as more and more industries switch to electricity from fossil fuels, the government is asking the Swedish Energy Agency, in collaboration with other authorities, to identify suitable areas to allow an additional annual production of 90 TWh of electricity at sea.
“Today the industry is crying out for offshore wind power. We are now accelerating the expansion of offshore wind power by flagging a number of suitable areas far out to sea,” said Annika Strandhäll, Sweden’s Climate Minister and the Environment.”At the same time, we are asking the Swedish Energy Agency to come up with even more areas.”
The new plan identifies three sea areas in the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea as prime locations for offshore capacity expansion. They plan to move further offshore and use floating wind turbines as part of the future project. Strandhäll stressed that the plan “will facilitate decisions on larger, long-term projects”.
The Sea Plan also provides guidance on the best use of the sea and how different interests can co-exist, to contribute to long-term sustainable development. They identify areas for power transmission, energy extraction, defence, culture, nature, recreation, sand mining, shipping, commercial fishing and general use. The Swedish Maritime Administration helped facilitate discussions with local authorities, municipalities and industry who contributed to the development of the overall plan.
For the second phase of the plan, the government has instructed the Swedish Energy Agency to report on the additional offshore locations no later than March 2023. The Swedish Maritime Administration’s proposal must be submitted to the government no later than in December 2024.
Sweden joins neighboring countries which are also looking abroad for their future electricity needs. Germany and the Netherlands have recently announced their intention to revitalize their offshore wind industry in order to increase their capacity. Norway recently presented plans for its first far offshore wind farms to be located in the southern parts of the North Sea, as well as continued efforts focused on floating offshore wind turbines to be located on the country’s west coast. In December 2021, the Finnish government approved plans for an auction model to be applied to leasing public water areas to support expanding offshore wind development.