Debate: The government pursues an unreliable energy policy

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Swedish industry wants to see a long-term and stable agreement on future electricity supply that lasts beyond mandate periods. The wage earners as well. LO and Svenskt Näringsliv have even held their own talks in frustration that the political leadership is not acting reliably. The households that were weighed down by record high electricity bills last winter expect the state-bearing parties to take joint responsibility for developing the energy system. Opposition leader Magdalena Andersson has in vain asked the government for an invitation to deliberations without being heard. Virtually all central actors want energy policy discussions to begin, but the government refuses. Why? Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson believes that the parties are too far apart on the nuclear power issue and that negotiations would therefore be pointless. But energy and nutrition minister Ebba Busch instead says the opposite – that she is in complete agreement about energy production with Magdalena Andersson – and that talks are therefore not needed. The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the government is not even able to synchronize its evasions. If the right-wing parties are serious about their ambitions to establish financial support and favorable conditions for new nuclear power in Sweden, there is no reason to forego energy talks. The facilities take a long time to get in place. Stable rules of the game that can be guaranteed across the block limit would increase the likelihood that new reactors are actually built. The Social Democrats have previously been open to new nuclear power as part of the expansion of the electricity system. Even the Center Party’s new leader, Muharrem Demirok, wants to change his party’s course in order to be able to participate in a deal that includes new nuclear power. The real reason why the Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals are refraining from energy talks is likely that the government base is not united enough to be able to satisfy the counter-demands which will be asked from the opposition about conditions that lead to a strong expansion of wind power in Sweden. The demands are extremely justified. The industry has stated in stark terms that more wind power will be absolutely decisive in the coming years if it is to be possible to make electricity-intensive conversions to fossil-free manufacturing. As new hydrogen and storage technology is developed, the large electricity production that offshore wind power can contribute will also be used more planably. There is already investment willingness to build offshore wind farms in southern Sweden, which have a higher expected normal annual production than all the country’s nuclear power plants combined. But the Sweden Democrats, as you know, the largest party in the government base, are intense opponents of wind power and now govern the government in a way that prevents expansion. In the Tidö agreement, Svenska kraftnät’s mission to expand the main grid for the connection of new offshore wind power is scrapped. The Sweden Democrats’ economic policy spokesperson Oscar Sjöstedt even talks about “picking off” existing wind farms. At the same time that industries and businesses want to make investments and commitments to contribute to future fossil-free prosperity, the Sweden Democrats are trying to undermine them. The SD leadership wants to stop the pace of change and looks like it will get its way with the Tidö collaboration. In practice, the party acts as an industrial political scarecrow that signals to companies and investors to focus on countries other than Sweden. Not just that. Together with opinion leaders on the right, for example the think tank Timbro and Svenska Dagbladet’s editorial page, the party has launched an attack on SSAB’s, LKAB’s and Vattenfall’s joint initiative to produce fossil-free steel in Norrland (the Hybrid project). That would require too much new wind power, says Jimmie Åkesson. If it is this kind of anti-industry line that the Sweden Democrats want to impose on the government, leading Swedish producers will leave the country. The price for this will be highest in municipalities such as Skellefteå, Mariestad, Borlänge, Oxelösund and Gothenburg, which will miss out on jobs and economic development. The government must choose a side now. Do they intend to stand next to Jimmie Åkesson, Oscar Sjöstedt and Martin Kinnunen instead of SSAB, Northvolt, Volvo, LKAB, LO, Swedish Business and households burdened with electricity bills? Ulf Kristersson and Ebba Busch, would you be so kind as to answer one more time – and honest this time – why don’t you start energy policy talks?Kalle Sundin, investigator at the trade union think tank Katalys

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