Sun-starved Sweden turns to solar to fill power void


Sweden, known for its long dark winters with barely any daylight, is seeing a solar power boom.
Harnessing whatever sunshine the country gets is emerging as the quickest solution to fill part of the void left by two closed nuclear reactors in southern Sweden, where the biggest cities and industries are located. With shortages piling up in the region and consumers keen to secure green energy at stable prices, solar is quickly catching up with wind as developers put panels on rooftops and underutilised land in populated areas.
While the lack of sunlight is a hindrance, every bit of new electricity capacity will lower imports from Europe where prices are more than three times higher than in the rest of Sweden. Projects are also getting built quickly because developers are directly getting into power sales deals with consumers and aren’t dependent on government support, said Harald Overholm, CEO of Alight AB, which started Sweden’s biggest solar plant this month.
Companies are targeting a quick ramp-up, pushing total capacity in the country to 2 gigawatt this year. That’s more than the two nuclear reactors in Ringhals that were halted in 2020, and will close the gap with Denmark, an early mover in the industry in the region.
“We are very good at creating contracts directly with commercial partners that use power, and that is what drives our development,” said Harald Overholm, CEO of Alight.
The past winter has demonstrated the hole left behind by the two atomic reactors, with the government facing the task of resolving a divergent market. While vast hydro and wind projects have kept the cost of electricity in the sparsely populated north in check, a lack of generating capacity and congested grids have forced the south at times to import power.