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How to boost wind power development  

The European Union’s current goal is to increase the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources by up to 22% by 2010. In line with European objectives, in 2002 the Swedish government adopted a national planning goal of yearly electricity production from wind power of 10 TWh by 2015, which implied a substantial increase from the 0.851 TWh level of 2005. In spite of these policy goals and measures, wind power has achieved considerably more modest results in Sweden than in other European countries, such as Germany, Spain or Denmark.
Quelle: European Commission

Swedish researchers have recently analysed the potential for future wind power development in Sweden, with special emphasis on what constitutes the main obstacles to further diffusion of windmills in the country’s electric power sector. To this end, the researchers assessed the economic factors as well as the different policy instruments and legal issues that have an impact on its competitive position compared to other power technologies. They also studied the public attitude towards wind power in general by sending out a postal survey to 1,000 Swedish homeowners.

An economic analysis shows that when considering existing taxes and subsidies, the competitive positions generally change in favour of wind power in comparison to gas, coal, and some hydro-based power sources. For example, the green certificate system is designed to promote a cost efficient introduction of renewable power technologies.

On the other hand, the authors highlight that legal protection against activities with a negative impact (i.e. on the landscape) and that includes wind turbines, is strong in Sweden. From the point of view of the investor, this situation gives rise to major uncertainties about the economic outcome of the proposed project. Moreover, the different territorial plans strongly affect the possibilities for wind power generation, and therefore, local municipalities play a crucial role in this planning process. The authors argue that differences between municipal planning requirements for mill location can, to a large extend, be explained by differences in the attitudes of local politicians. Therefore, according to the authors, in the absence of binding national planning goals, as exist in Denmark or Germany, wind power will always run the risk of facing local obstacles to its implementation.

The results of the survey show that the Swedish public have in general a positive attitude towards wind power, as it is considered as environmental friendly. Nevertheless, most of the objections to its expansion tend to have had environmental origins. This is probably due to the fact that the overall environmental benefits of wind power generation are not always visualised at the implementation stage.

The current study shows that the existing policy instruments intended to promote wind power are strong enough to make wind power projects competitive, but current legal rules for environmental permits and territorial planning, and public criticism at the local level, create substantial investment uncertainties. Even though these results have been drawn from the Swedish context, they may be useful for policy makers all over Europe when considering future policies to boost renewable energies in general and wind energy in particular.

During the recent meeting in Brussels on 8-9 March 2007, all Member States agreed on a binding target of a 20% share of renewable energies in overall EU energy consumption by 2020. It would then be up to each member state to decide on national targets for specific sectors ““ electricity, heating and cooling, etc. Furthermore, a 10% minimum target on biofuels was also agreed, although the EU leaders stressed that the binding nature of this objective was subject to “production being sustainable”, and to “second-generation biofuels becoming commercially available”.

For more informationen

Source: Patrik Söderholm, Kristina Ek, and Maria Pettersson (2007) « Wind power development in Sweden: Global policies and local obstacles. » Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 11: 365-400
Contact: patrik.soderholm@ltu.se


23 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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