Clean energy is a foundation for a sustainable society. In Sweden, most of the electricity generated is fossil-free, and wind power is the fastest-growing energy source. But it is not enough to only increase renewable energy production. The use of energy needs to be smarter and more efficient.
The energy production in Sweden is known for its reliable delivery and cheap price. Thanks to well-developed hydropower, in combination with extensive district heating and cooling systems, Sweden has been able to make the switch to renewable sources of energy at a high pace.
But sustainable energy production does not solely mean producing power, it can also imply reusing energy through energy recycling. District heating is a climate-smart energy system that heats over half of all commercial and residential buildings in Sweden. The district heating is produced from what would otherwise go to waste, such as forestry residues, household waste, or surplus heat from industry and data centres.
Towards 100 % renewable energy
Sweden, amongst many other countries, is in a phase of transition from the use of nuclear power towards renewable energy. By 2040, energy production should be 100 % renewable. One difficulty with this conversion is how renewable energy naturally fluctuates in energy output. When energy is not generated by wind or sun, other sources of energy need to be used. To fully rely on renewable energy, the development of flexible energy production, demand-side flexibility in consumption, increased energy storage capacity and smart grids will become increasingly important.
Efficient use of energy
Buildings, industry, transport, and mobility are all identified as the sectors with the largest potential for energy saving worldwide. These sectors are markedly different from each other but also have many challenges in common, like creating and maintaining sustainable systems of power supply, heating, cooling, and lighting, just to name a few.
Even though Sweden’s work in energy efficiency has led to great results so far, more needs to be done. Sweden has put up the ambitious goal to become 50 % more energy-efficient in 2030 compared to 2005 levels, which means that several solutions and changes need to be implemented.
A singular focus on increasing the amount of energy efficiency-related investments is not the most effective way to create a sustainable and efficient energy infrastructure. This complex challenge needs a solution where the issue is tackled through a combination of subsidies, regulations and a culture of cooperation that allows for an innovative business climate to thrive. Energy labelling of products, targeted economic subsidies to the industry and further development of networks for innovative solutions can together help with creating solutions that enable flexible and efficient use of energy.