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Innovative Solutions for 100% renewable power in Sweden

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Sweden is well positioned to help the world meet the aims of the Paris Agreement. The country’s power system is almost entirely decarbonised already, based on extensive hydropower resources and nuclear power, as well as district heating fuelled by biomass. In 2017, the Swedish electricity production comprised around 40% hydropower, 39% nuclear, 11% wind power and 10% combined heat and power fueled predominantly by renewable sources. Interconnections with neighbouring countries, participation in the highly integrated pan-European electricity market, climatefriendly, market-based policies, and strong support for innovation are also significant assets. Sweden’s older, conventional power plants will likely shut down before 2045 as they reach the end of their life cycles, by which time demand for electricity in the country is likely to rise due to the increasing electrification of end-use sectors such as transport and industry. Sweden’s policy goals call for achieving 100% renewable power by 2040 and net zero carbon emissions by 2045. The aim to establish a 100% renewable power system in Sweden, while also ensuring energy security, affordability and environmental sustainability, faces challenges in both the policy/regulatory and the system operation spheres.

This study has two main aims. First, it considers how systemic innovations to integrate high shares of renewables (including from variable renewable energy, VRE) into the power system could help to meet Sweden’s ambitious policy target of 100% renewable electricity by 2040. This is done by proposing four innovative solutions to be further explored and by highlighting the most innovative pilot projects seen internationally. Second, by showcasing actions that have put Sweden at the forefront of the global energy transition, the study aims to inspire other countries to scale up their ambitions for renewable power targets via international co-operation. The study reflects the outcomes of four workshops held during 2019 with other members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), including European countries with similar policy objectives (Denmark, Germany and Spain) and other countries with applicable experience in operating power systems with very high shares of renewables, including a growing share of solar and wind power complementing conventional hydropower (Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay). The present analysis includes an assessment of the likely impacts of those innovative solutions, as well as recommendations on how to implement them.

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