Renewable energy: comparing Sweden with the UK

Scandinavian countries are leading the way for renewable energy generation and Sweden wants to become the first fossil fuel-free country in the world. A few years ago we looked at combined heat and power in the country. This time we are taking a more high level view on Sweden’s renewable energy across a number of technologies.

Sweden’s future is in renewables

With two thirds of Sweden’s energy now from renewable sources, it is on track to achieve its aim. In the country’s September 2015 budget, the government allocated the equivalent of £356million to green infrastructure. The budget stated its commitment to ‘investing in climate financing in developing countries, solar cells and green cities.’ The Green-Social Democrat coalition has introduced several progressive policies to move Sweden into a new sustainable age. The few remaining nuclear power stations face early closure and raised taxes as a disincentive and promote move to renewables. Environmental taxes have also been raised, in direct contrast to UK policies.

Meanwhile, the UK Government is moving away from renewable energy

Things are pretty different in the UK. In March 2016’s budget, chancellor George Osborne announced a new level of support for fossil fuels, whilst reversing progress in renewable energy generation. The government are encouraging fracking, cutting funding for renewables and scrapping subsidies for homeowners installing solar PV systems. In addition, in their own words, they are capping ‘support for offshore wind’: something that has been a big hope for those promoting green alternative energies. The budget also promised to ‘abolish the bureaucratic and burdensome Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme and replace it […] with an increase in the Climate Change Levy from 2019.’ Sure, they could deliver a new improved alternative On the other hand, the sceptics might say the Government are finding excuses not to monitor or regulate businesses’ carbon emissions.

While Sweden increase taxes for non-renewable energy, our government has pledged to ‘support the oil and gas industry by permanently zero-rating Petroleum Revenue Tax.’ Perhaps one of the most alarming developments is the creation of the Shale Wealth Fund to give a cut of profits to communities near fracking sites. It surely is not too contentious to suggest there may be an ulterior motive here, considering how opposed many local people are to the idea of nearby fracking sites; because of noise and potential effects on health and the environment.

So what?

Which country’s policies are right for now is up for discussion, but it seems clear that Sweden’s measures are more forward-thinking. The UK is moving away from renewable energy at exactly the time it needs to be embracing it; climate change is increasingly evident, air pollution is worsening and public support for renewables is higher than ever.

Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?

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