"What is called unpredictable energy can become far more predictable."
"It is a widespread myth that there would be forms of energy that are completely unpredictable. Battery systems enable short-term storage. Hydrogen enable seasonal storage." Writes Ulrika Tornerefelt in Ny Teknik Debatt.
A key factor for Sweden to achieve the goal of having no net greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere by 2045, is that we are able to phase out fossil fuels. This means that we are facing huge electrification.
Some of it can be solved through energy efficiency, but at the same time, we will need more electricity. A report from the Energiföretagen (a Swedish organisation; Energy Companies) shows that Sweden's electricity demand is expected to increase from today's 140 TWh to 330 TWh by 2045.
It is worth noting that this figure has continuously increased with each forecast report released. We must increase the speed and scope of the transition in a cost-effective manner, while ensuring stability, security, and growth. Therefore, we must produce more fossil-free electricity (both centralized and decentralized), streamline electricity usage through the integration of new technology, expand the main and regional grids, and optimize the energy market's delivery capacity by adding energy storage.
Now it requires large long-term investments, shorter permitting processes with increased competence among authorities, clearer legal frameworks for the energy market as a whole, as well as better financial instruments to stimulate the use of different forms of energy storage. We need an open, structured, and fact-based discussion in Sweden to conclude broad political agreements and create maximum predictability.
One technology should not be pitted against another. All fossil-free technologies should be evaluated on how they could work together to create a strong and resilient power system. Otherwise, we risk generally higher energy costs in the coming decades.
It is true, of course, that wind and solar power, as well as partly hydropower, are weather-dependent. But not seeing the potential in various forms of energy because of that, means losing the big picture.
Especially when it comes to renewable energy sources, myths circulate. The most widespread one is that there would be forms of energy that are completely unpredictable. This has almost turned out to be a "truth" for many in the debate.
Read this motion from Lars Beckman from 2021: "The Swedish energy system is currently undergoing a major change where weather-dependent production such as wind power is increasingly phased into the system, while predictable energy like nuclear power is phased out."
An often unspoken assumption is that centralized energy production facilities such as nuclear power and hydropower are the solution. Even if Climate and Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari believes that Sweden will have built ten new reactors by 2045, we will need solar and wind power, energy efficiency, and energy storage as permanent complements to these centralized foundations.
If handled properly, what is called unpredictable energy can become much more predictable. Not the production itself, but we can store the produced energy and thus increase predictability. Battery systems enable short-term storage, and with, for example, hydrogen, seasonal storage is obtained. In addition, battery storage is excellent for managing the volatility that causes frequency instability in a grid with an increased share of solar and wind.
Furthermore, batteries can act as a backup and thus prevent very costly power outages that the industry would otherwise be at risk of due to possible planned shutdowns or further increased instability in the grid. The desirable local effect is also created through an accelerated expansion of modular energy storage solutions (battery systems).
It is absolutely necessary that we expand both solar and wind power. A renewable decentralized energy production in combination with larger centralized facilities will be the most cost-effective if we look at how the consumption pattern of electricity develops in the coming years.
As long as the discussion focuses unilaterally on old beliefs about the different forms of energy and how they should be pitted against each other, we will not take advantage of the opportunities that exist. Technological development and innovation will increase the stability and predictability for all forms of energy. That's when we reach the 2045 goal.
Ulrika Tornerefelt, CEO and Founder, Stella Futura