The recent decisions made by the Moderates – governing party in Sweden at their congress in Umeå regarding Sweden’s climate policy have the potential to usher in a new era for the wind energy sector. Swedish Wind Energy Association welcomes these changes, which not only streamline the permitting process but also prioritize electrification, enhance legal certainty in municipal approvals for wind power projects, and provide the basis for sustainable growth in the industry.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Moderates’ new policy is their recognition of the need for significant improvements and expediting of the permitting process under the relevant authorities. This aligns with the rules of the EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED III), largely shaped during Sweden’s EU presidency in the first half of 2023. These EU regulations are expected to be integrated into the national legislation of member states by the first half of 2025. Among the key provisions are:
- The aggregate time for all relevant permits, including grid concessions, for renewable electricity production should not exceed 24 months.
- Applicants should have a single point of contact throughout the permitting process.
- Identification of acceleration areas where renewable electricity projects receive simplified and expedited permitting processes.
- Recognition of renewable energy development as a superior public interest.
The Swedish Wind Energy Association commends the Moderates’ commitment to adopting these EU norms in Sweden and acknowledges the importance of aligning national practices with broader European goals.
Furthermore, the Moderates have put forward an idea that holds great potential for strengthening municipal involvement in electricity production expansion. They propose transferring the property tax paid by wind power projects from the state to the local municipalities. This step could serve as a valuable incentive for more municipalities to participate in the growth of electricity production, electrification, and climate transition. The Association endorses this idea, echoing the urgency emphasized by John Hassler in his report to the government.
The Swedish Wind Energy Association believes that the transfer of property tax should apply to all forms of energy production to minimize the risk of unintended distortions in competition among energy sources. As highlighted in the Hassler report, this change would mean a lot for municipalities while having minimal impact on state finances. In the 2023 state budget, property tax from all electricity-producing installations amounted to 980 million SEK. With electricity consumption expected to increase by 140 terawatt-hours by 2035, transferring the property tax would fully cover the cost when electricity consumption rises by 2 TWh, leaving the rest as a net gain for the state.
In regard to incentives for local communities, the Moderates’ recognition of the Incentive Investigation’s proposals, as outlined in “The Value of the Wind,” is commendable. While the added transparency is a positive step, the Association emphasizes the importance of ensuring that these measures do not inadvertently deter potential investors.
The Moderates’ focus on addressing the problems associated with the municipal veto over wind power projects is a crucial move towards greater legal certainty and predictability. The current rule allows for arbitrary decisions that do not need to be justified, lack predictability, produce uncontestable outcomes, and permit municipalities to withdraw their approval at any time. Legal experts have pointed out that the municipal veto is incompatible with the principles of objectivity and fairness that are central to permitting procedures and public administration.
The Moderates’ request for early-stage information is reasonable and can be accommodated by existing proposals that maintain the municipality’s planning authority but require early declarations based on project area maps, the maximum number of wind turbines, and the maximum total height of the wind turbines. These suggestions, which enjoy the support of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Regioner, SKR), are steps in the right direction towards a more predictable and efficient decision-making process.
The Moderates’ decisions on climate policy represent a significant leap forward for the wind energy sector and the electrification of Sweden. The Swedish Wind Energy Association eagerly anticipates the implementation of these initiatives and the positive impact they will have on the industry and the country’s sustainable energy future.
Source: Swedish Wind Energy Association