This Is How Sweden Will Lead the Green Transition

More than SEK 1,000 billion will be invested in green industrial establishments in northern Sweden in the coming decades. The total societal transformation will put severe pressure on the Swedish electricity system, which requires innovation, large-scale skills development as well as new collaborations and business models. During the Energy ConFusion conference in Skellefteå, industry experts from all over the country gathered to discuss whether we think big enough about electrification.

Henrik Bergström, Head of Public and Regulatory Affairs at Ellevio, says that the electricity network company has hired Sweco for a study of what the sharply increased electricity consumption until 2045 will mean in the form of investments and costs on the electricity network's infrastructure.

– The report shows a huge development in Skellefteå and Boden, which tops the list of electricity consumption. Sweden is turned upside down, which is interesting from several different perspectives. How are we going to keep up with this development when so much is going to happen in such a short time? Collaboration and review of existing regulations will be required, says Henrik.

Joachim Nordin, President and CEO of Skellefteå Kraft, says that they were early in developing their network for electricity-intensive industry and that they were therefore well prepared for the establishment of Northvolt's battery factory.

– We had worked proactively and created opportunities for the establishment. But the job is not done, we will continue to invest in the electricity grid because we want Skellefteå to become the epicenter of electrification throughout Europe. The time is now and it is important to accelerate when we have the chance, says Joachim.

Joachim Nordin från Skellefteå Kraft och Anton Ekeström från NOrthvolt i paneldiskussion under Energy COnFusion
Joachim Nordin informs that Skellefteå Kraft was early to develop the grid.

Collaboration Is the Key

Together with Anne Graf, H2 Green Steel, Anton Ekeström, Northvolt, and Björn Jonsson, ABB, Joachim spoke on the topic "Have we understood the extent of electrification". And the quartet agrees that collaboration is the way forward.

– It is obvious that we think the same way. Ten years ago we competed against each other, but today we agree not to cannibalize each other and instead hunt together, says Anne Graf and mentions the MindDig initiative as an example.

MindDig is a digital talent portal that collects jobs and educations, encourages talent to participate in the green transition and works to make it easier for everyone who takes the step to move north. Behind the initiative are LKAB, SSAB, Northvolt, Boliden, Skellefteå Kraft, H2 Green Steel, Mobilaris, Vattenfall and Luleå University of Technology.

–The portal is an important piece of the puzzle to attract people to our region. The electricity supply can be solved technically, the challenge with the supply of skills is more difficult and here we must become much better at getting people who have moved here to stay, says Anne Graf.

Anne Graf från H2 Green Steel och Björn Jonsson från ABB Process Automation i paneldiskussion under Energy COnFusion
Anne Graf, H2 Green Steel, talks about the importance of working with competence.

Clear Direction Necessary

The future forecasts for Sweden's energy needs have gone from 200 TWh to 500 TWh and during Energy ConFusion the growing pains in the electricity system were also discussed. Maria Jalvemo, program manager at Svenska kraftnät, states that it is a very complex work that is going on on several fronts at the same time.

– There is a huge need for investment in the electricity grid and we see a changed production pattern with a larger share of renewable electricity in the system. Bottlenecks in the network will be removed and new sectors will be electrified. And everything must be done at the same time. This requires sharp brains and cooperation to understand each other's realities, says Maria, who calls for clearer directions from the government.

Maria Jalvemo i paneldiskussion under Energy ConFusion
Maria Jalvemo, Svenska kraftnät discusses the complex work that is going on.

– We, the industry, have a responsibility to train our politicians to increase understanding of what needs to be done. On this issue we can do more, she says and is supported by Tobias Hansson, CEO of Hitachi Energy.

The industry agrees that electricity consumption will double in 20 years and then a consensus is required on how we move forward. Northvolt's establishment is a good example, which is almost similar to a partnership between actors and stakeholders working together on a project. When I heard about the establishment for the first time, I never thought they would be able to do it in such a short time, but now we are there and it's tough, says Tobias.

Another issue that was discussed was how to meet the increased production needs throughout the country. Lina Bertling Tjernberg, professor of electric power grids at KTH, states that production must increase in southern Sweden.

– We should not turn on the map, we should build in all places. With the Atlantic outside, we have fantastic conditions for offshore wind power and it can give us large volumes quickly. Then we have to deal with the lack of transmission capacity, which creates frustration, says Lina.

Dare to Start Investing!

The green transition is taking place quickly and new solutions are therefore critical. During the third and final panel discussion, it was discussed how to create conditions for new innovations and ideas.

– No matter how much you think you broaden your perspective, it is almost always too narrow anyway, says Greger Ledung, expert in battery research at the Swedish Energy Agency.

Much of the discussion was about the electrification of heavy transport. Bo Normark, strategy manager at InnoEnergy, believes that Europe's manufacturers of heavy transport vehicles are doing many things right.

– They have a joint project on charge structure and their knowledge base is significant. When it comes to charging networks of passenger cars, Tesla has Europe's best charging network and it is embarrassing. That must not happen again, he says.

Eva Kvist Östgren, head of ABB E-mobility in Sweden, urges hauliers to dare to invest directly.

– Do not set up a master plan for the next ten years, but start with what you feel comfortable with. Think about how you can plan the transports in a different way and how you can increase the degree of filling of the cars. The alternative of remaining does not exist, then you die, she says.

Developments on the hydrogen side were also discussed. Bo Normark states that the hydrogen investments have been running slowly on the transport side, but that today it has been realized that this is not primarily where the large-scale is.

– It is instead available in industrial applications and here someone must take the lead by increasing volumes and thus reduce costs. Then the transport side will benefit from it, he says.

Eva and Bo appreciate Energy ConFusion and call for more similar conferences for a continued exchange of experience.

– We need to spread the knowledge and increase curiosity about the change that is taking place, says Eva.

And preferably with influences from other countries that shares how they solve the challenges with their power systems, Bo concludes.

Bo Normark från InnoEnergy och Eva Kvist Östgren från ABB E-mobility deltar i paneldiskussioner under ENergy Confusion
Bo Normark, InnoEnergy, and Eva Kvist Östgren, ABB E-mobility, emphasizes the importance of disseminating knowledge and sharing the knowledge of others.

About Energy ConFusion

Energy ConFusion is an innovative meeting place and conference for a sustainable future. The conference is arranged annually as a two-day event in northern Sweden, and is based on audience-driven discussions around electrification and smart energy solutions that enable the green transition.

Energy ConFusion 2022 is arranged by North Sweden Cleantech in collaboration with Power Circle. Partners for the conference are Skellefteå Kraft, ABB, Hitachi, the Swedish Energy Agency.


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