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Sweden is among one of the few countries that has invested heavily in the adoption of alternative energy sources. The move to adopt alternative energy sources began in the 70s when there was an oil crisis. At the time oil made up approximately 75% of the country’s energy supplies but that is not the case today as oil now only accounts for 20% and this has been due to the decrease in its utilization in residential heating (Mundaca, Román, & Cansino, 2015). This paper will delve to highlight some of the energy policies that Sweden’s has adopted and further provide the future plans that the country has in place in improving its energy efficiencies. Finally, recommendation on how the US needs to improve its energy efficiency and policies will be provided at the end of the paper.
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Sweden’s energy policies
It is important to note that there are only a few countries that utilize more energy per capita compared to Sweden. Based on Xylia, & Silveira, (2016), Sweden has an annual release of 4.25 tons of carbon dioxide and this is way lower when compared to the European’s average of 6.91 tons and 16.15 tons in the US. The lower emission has been accredited to the country’s reliance in electricity which is generated from hydroelectric and nuclear power. Wind power also accounts for a significant portion of the country’s generation as it stands at 7% while combined heat and power plants tend to account for 10% of the entire country electricity generated
The main goal of the Sweden’s energy policy has always been to ensure that there is secure supply of electricity not only for households but also companies at a price that is competitive. The country plans to generate 100% renewably produced electricity by the year 2040 (Meyer, 2017) Measures related to energy efficiency have always been essential for Sweden in the achievement of its energy policy objectives. Just as it is in the US, politicians in both countries are more focused on the production side.
In the US, the focus has been on coal while on the other hand Sweden’s focus is on hydro and wind power. By Sweden focusing on the aforementioned energy sources, it has been able to achieve efficiency in energy consumption and therefore it has proven to be one of the most cost efficient ways of providing households and industries with energy without requiring an increase in the production. When Sweden achievements are compared to 30 years ago, there is less use of energy today despite there being an increase in the population by 25% and a growth in the GDP by 100%. Sweden therefore provides an example of one of the few countries that both combines a decrease energy use with a modern welfare society development
Advantages in energy use
Just like other Nordic countries, Sweden has chosen to adopt a path not many other nations have adopted to ensure there is an implementation of policies that don’t choose technologies. The system of shared green certificate is currently being enforced and it is aimed at supporting the renewable energy development (Månsson, 2016). This system is supporting both bioenergy and hydro energy and has consistently been attaining the set targets efficiently. Currently Sweden consumers are paying a tenth of what Germans are paying and this has been seen to be as a result of the efficiency of the shared green certificate system. Based on the current government, the country has set a target of 80% renewable energy. The reason for this is based on the fact the country has an ageing nuclear plants.
Sweden is on course to operate on entirely renewable energy with the next two decades. Based on the 2017 statistics, it was noted that 57% of the country’s energy came from renewables; wind and hydropower sources with the balance being from nuclear energy (Giest, 2015). However, Sweden now plans on tapping in its biggest potential and that is onshore wind power. The exploitation of this potential will make sure that the country by 2040 will become fossil free. Over the years Sweden has steadily and slowly been increasing its wind power and it is now on course to replace the already ageing nuclear energy. it is certain to note that nuclear has proven to be expensive energy for the country and this is due to the costly long term funding for the nuclear waste management.
Sweden presently has three nuclear plans with it being the only country in the world which has a single reactor for every one million of its population. In total it has ten nuclear reactors that are commercially in operation (Darmani, 2015). However recently in 2015 the country halted the construction of any new nuclear plants and subsequently the energy tax was increased. The move was meant to make sure that the investment that was to be set aside for nuclear plant construction be redirected to the production of renewable energy. The move has resulted to the closure of some nuclear reactors and the subsequent effect is that there has been an increase in renewable energy (Jasper, 2014)
Sweden’s energy efficiencies
Back in 2005, Sweden had put in place a 5-year program which was aimed at boosting energy efficiency. in this particular program there were over 180 companies that took part and they all were five tax reliefs in return for energy plans to be drawn and steps to ensure energy reduction drafted. By the end of the program back in 2009, it was a success as over $59.4 million had been saved coupled with the energy saving of 1.45TWh annually (Brown et al 2014). The success of the program then, resulted to the reintroduction of the program and currently there are 90 industries that are part of the program; all of them combined contributing to a fifth of the total country’s electricity consumption.
Sweden’s move to being one of the countries free from the use of fossil fuels is on course. The government has specifically outlined that in less than seven years that target will be achieved; something that other countries such as the US have become dependent on in fulfilling its energy needs. Sweden has instituted many measures that have ensured that it has become the highest ranked country by German watch for its performance in climate change. There is certainly a lot that the US can learn from Sweden and therefore ensure that it rises from the number 52 position it has been ranked by German watch (Gullberg, & Bang, 2015).
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The US energy policies can easily be termed as one that advocates for cheap energy. For many years the country has advocated for the use of fossil fuels and has consistently avoided the imposition of tax schemes which would ensure that fossil fuel use is costlier. It is time that the US moves away from fossil fuels something that Sweden began doing in the 1970s. further there needs to be an imposition of carbon tax just like what Sweden did in 1991 (Goldthau, & Sitter, 2015). In this way the US will be able to slowly put an end to fossil fuels and therefore push more for alternative sources of energy. If this is not implemented now, then it is certain that the energy independence in the US will be a farfetched goal.
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