On 11 March 2011 an enormous earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. It is a day that will be remembered in history, not only for the unimaginable human tragedy, but for the resulting nuclear disaster, the scale of which, after Chernobyl, we were told could never happen again. The nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant will also be seen as a turning point in world energy policy. It triggered intensive discussions on the safety of nuclear power, and as a result, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy chose to end their nuclear programmes and to phase out existing reactors. Sweden had only the year before undone its ambitions to phase out nuclear and instead allowed for construction of new nuclear reactors, but the accident in Japan has even led to discussions about the future of nuclear in Sweden.
As the biggest challenge of our age, climate change is having a huge impact on our fragile environment. Droughts and flooding in many parts of the world and the increasing loss of the Arctic ice-cap are warning signs that we cannot ignore. And it is the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people who are on the frontline of the devastating effects of climate change.
The solution is the Energy [R]evolution. Only a dynamic shift in how we generate and use energy will make it possible to achieve both the phase out of nuclear and minimize the risk of climate change. Sweden has vast renewable energy sources, from wind to solar photovoltaic and is already using bioenergy and geothermal resources. Harnessing these resources would not only make a huge contribution to averting runaway climate change, but would also create new economic opportunities including jobs. We can and must create a much more sustainable society, using existing clean technologies.
This is a turning point for Sweden’s sustainable energy future. With political will and Sweden’s abundance of renewable energy resources and top class technology, the country could easily become a renewable energy leader. It is also well placed to become much more energy efficient and reduce the costs of energy as well as emissions. But the political decisions need to be taken now, so that nuclear energy will not, as in the past, block the development of renewable energy sources.
The Energy [R]evolution scenario is one of potential pathways which Sweden can take.
The advanced Energy [R]evolution—A sustainable Energy Outlook for Sweden, has been created to show the paths we can follow for a clean energy future. The ‘reference scenario’ is based on the Swedish Energy Agencys longterm prognosis from 2008. The Energy [R]evolution scenario was calculated by the German Space Agency (DLR) with support from the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP).
The scenario indicates that if we decide and take the `Energy [R]evolution’ pathway in Sweden it is possible to achieve a renewable energy future by:
- Phasing out nuclear power generation by 2030
- Generating 84% of electricity from renewable energy by 2020
- Reducing 95% of CO2 emissions by 2050 (in comparison of 1990)
Renewable energy is mature and can be deployed on a large scale. Decades of technological progress have seen renewable energy technologies move steadily into the mainstream and its rapid development has seen costs cut dramatically. Renewable energy will play a vital role in providing secure, reliable and zero-emission energy in the future.
The global market for renewable energy is booming internationally. Between 2005 and 2010, installed capacity of wind power grew by 333% globally, while solar photovoltaic grew by over 700%. As renewable energy is scaled up, we can start phasing out nuclear and fossil fuels. There is no need to keep relying on uncontrollable nuclear and dirty coal/oil-fired power. Enhanced efficiency and renewable energy supply can not only meet Sweden’s energy demand, but also help us minimize the effects of climate change and create green jobs and a sustainable clean future. Sweden has abundant renewable energy resources like biomass, wind, solar and geothermal and crucially, it has economic power and world top class engineering technology to make these viable. All that’s needed now is the political will to make it happen.
the forgotten solution: energy efficiency
The Sweden Energy [R]evolution scenario takes advantage of the enormous potential for the country to become much more energy efficient. Energy efficiency offers some of the simplest, easiest and quickest measures for reducing energy demands, greenhouse gas emissions and cost to end-users.
on the front foot
The Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario demonstrates that making the necessary transformation in how we use energy is achievable, and provides new opportunities and creates green and sustainable jobs. We call on Sweden’s political leaders to turn the Energy [R]evolution scenario into a reality and to begin the inevitable transition from nuclear/fossil-fuels to renewable energy now, delivering a safe, nuclear-free environment, reduced threat from climate change and a sustainable, prosperous future.