Nordic countries always score well in happiness and life quality polls, now the Swedish government has restructured their budget to become the world’s first fossil fuel-free country. Scandinavian countries are already world-leaders in renewable energy, with Sweden generating around two-thirds of its electricity through renewable sources. On some windy days Denmark produces more than 100% of its energy needs from wind turbines, selling the excess to neighbouring Sweden, Germany, and Norway, despite the latter being one of the world’s top petroleum producers and exporters.
Iceland’s clean energy credentials are also impressive: almost 100% of Iceland's electricity comes from renewable sources,due to its investment in hydropower and geothermal energy production.
This September, the Swedish government announced it will allocate 4.5 billion kronor (£356 million) next year to green infrastructure , such as funding more solar panels and wind turbines, as well as cleaner public transport, and a smarter energy storage system. The current government will also commit 50 million kronor (£4 million) annually to be spent on research into electricity storage, and 1 billion (£80 million) toupgrade residential buildings to make them more energy-efficient.
September’s budgetary announcement has been more than one decade in planning: in 2005 the Swedish government appointed a commission to draw up a comprehensive programme to reduce Sweden's dependence on petroleum, natural gas and other ‘fossil raw materials’ by 2020 . Last month’s budget commitments show that Sweden is on track for this target after massive reductions in oil dependence.
Sweden are leading the way in decarbonising their economy and society by offering attractive, and cost-effective clean energy alternatives . Even beyond the national borders they are acting as a responsible example, with more money being invested in green projects overseas,with 500 million kronor annually being invested in creating green infrastructure in developing countries, which they hope will send an "important signal" ahead of the UN climate change conference in Paris this December.
They are “på väg mot ett oljefritt Sverige” (on the way to an oil-free Sweden). But this good news is not only limited to Sweden, clean energy is reaching cost-parity across European countries. This week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance wrote on how wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both the UK and Germany, without government subsidies. It's the first time that this threshold has been crossed by a G7 economy.
Sweden's ultimate aim is as ambitious as it is honorable: They hope to become one of the world’s first nations to end its dependence on fossil fuels. Solar energy, in particular, has seen its budget increase by 800%. Stockholm aims to be powered only by sustainable energy sources by 2050. This announcement couldn’t come soon enough: The United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held this year in Paris, is beginning at the end of November. Sweden’s – and Denmark’s – climate change initiatives will hopefully influence the less keen attendees of the conference to begin to adapt their own countries’ energy grids.