Sweden Targets 120 TWh from Accelerated Offshore Wind Farm Development
The Swedish government announced plans for a massive expansion of the country’s offshore wind power generation capabilities targeting capacity nearly equal to the country’s current annual consumption of electricity. Announcing the new program, the government said it had formulated the country’s first comprehensive marine plan but would be looking to update the plan as further offshore areas are identified.
Sweden’s annual electricity consumption is approximately 140 terawatt hours (TWh) per year with only approximately 200 MW of the generation capacity coming from offshore wind. However, the government announced an aggressive plan for the faster expansion of offshore wind power adding 20–30 TWh of annual production in the first phase. Anticipating the electric demand growth will accelerate as more industries shift to electricity from fossil fuels, the government is instructing the Swedish Energy Agency, together with other authorities, to identify suitable areas to enable an additional 90 TWh of annual electricity production at sea.
“Today, the industry is screaming for offshore wind power. We are now accelerating the expansion of offshore wind power by pointing out a number of suitable areas far out to sea,” said Annika Strandhäll, Sweden’s Minister of Climate and Environment. “At the same time, we are instructing the Swedish Energy Agency to propose even more areas.”
The new plan identifies three sea areas in the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, and the North Sea as the first locations for the expanded offshore capacity. They anticipate moving further offshore and using floating wind turbines as part of the future project. Strandhäll highlighted that the plan will “facilitate decisions on larger and long-term projects.”
The sea plan also provides guidance on what is the best use of the sea and how different interests can coexist, to contribute to long-term sustainable development. They are identifying areas for electricity transmission, energy extraction, defense, culture, nature, recreation, sand extraction, shipping, commercial fishing, and general use. The Swedish Maritime Administration helped to facilitate discussions with local authorities, municipalities, and industry that contributed to the development of the overall plan.
For the second phase of the plan, the government has assigned the Swedish Energy Agency to report on additional offshore locations no later than March 2023. The Swedish Maritime Administration's proposal must be submitted to the government no later than December 2024.
Sweden joins neighboring countries that are also looking offshore for their future power needs. Both Germany and the Netherlands have recently announced plans to reinvigorate their offshore wind industry to increase capacity. Norway recently outlined plans for its first far offshore wind farms to be located in the southern portions of the North Sea as well as continuing efforts focused on floating offshore wind turbines to be located on the country’s western coast. In December 2021, the Finnish government approved plans for an auction model to be applied to the leasing of public water areas to support the expansion of offshore wind development.