Sweden’s parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Sweden's Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderates on a goal of cutting peak power consumption by 5 percent as part of an EU scheme.

Sweden's parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption
Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar speaks to the press at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin / TT

Now the election is over, both parties seem willing to consider ways to encourage citizens to reduce power use, an obvious measure to reduce winter power prices that was conspicuously absent from the campaign. 

At the same time, the Moderates are downplaying their election campaign pledge to bring in “high-cost protection” to reimburse citizens for much of the impact of high power costs by the start of November. 

At a meeting of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, the two parties agreed that both the caretaker Social Democrat government and the incoming Moderate-led government should take action to cut power consumption by between 5 percent and 10 percent. 

“If we succeed in carrying this out on a coordinated EU level, we will be on the way to at the very least halving electricity prices,” Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar told Sweden’s TT newswire. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” agreed Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday. 

But he said that meeting the goal would be very much dependent on outside factors, particularly how cold the winter is in Sweden. 

“Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms,” he said. “In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

The Moderates are agreed that the public sector should reduce “unnecessary power consumption”, but have yet to agree on measures that households should take, such as reducing indoor temperatures or turning off the lights. 

At the same time, Bohlin admitted on Wednesday that the high-cost protection that Ulf Kristersson pledged in the campaign by November 1st, may be delayed by the government negotiations. 

“We promised high-cost protection from November 1st, on the condition that a new government was in place rapidly,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. “The problem is that Svenska kraftnät [the company that owns and operates Sweden’s power grid], is working to another schedule, one given by the current government.” 

The outgoing Social Democrat government has given Svenska kraftnät until November 15th to propose a system for high-cost protection. The cash paid back to households and businesses would be taken from the bottle-neck income which the grid operator receives as a result of capacity shortages in the network. 

The outgoing Social Democrats have also changed their rhetoric since the end of the campaign .

On September 9th, two days before the election took place, the Social Democrat government framed a meeting of EU ministers on September 9th as a “breakthrough” in the EU negotiations. 

Farmanbar is now describing it as “a process”. 

“What we can promise right now is that we’re going to work as hard as we can to get a breakthrough,” he said. 

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Sweden’s energy usage continues to drop

Sweden's energy usage is still decreasing, if anything at slightly faster rate, according to new preliminary figures from the Energy Authority.

Sweden's energy usage continues to drop

In November energy usage went down by eight procent on average across the country. In October, this figure was 7.6 percent, according to earlier figures from the Swedish National Grid.

As previously, southern Sweden saw the largest drop. In energy zone 4 (the southernmost zone), energy usage went down 12 percent. In energy zone 3 usage went down 10 percent. In the north of the country however, usage increased compared to November last year – going up by one and four percent in energy zones 1 and 2, respectively.

These figures are preliminary, and it’s difficult to say exactly what the drop in usage is caused by, the Energy Authority says.

“It’s fair to assume that the high prices – and also the media attention around them – has contributed to lower usage,” it wrote in a newsletter titled “The Current Situation on the Energy Market”.

The weather has also had an effect. November was warmer this year compared to last year. More electric cars and energy-heavy investments in Norrland, such as the Northvolt battery factory, are likely factors behind the increase in usage in the northernmost energy zone.