Top Ten Reasons Sweden is a Cleantech Leader

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In all the countries throughout the European Union, Sweden has the largest share of renewable energy. Currently, more than 39 percent of all Swedish energy consumption is covered by sources of renewable energy. To assist in the European Union’s 2020 goal of 20 percent renewable energy consumption, Sweden looks to raise their target to 49 percent by the year 2020 Sweden is looked at as an international model of a society that is based on sustainable resources and is environmentally sound. The policy of the Swedish government has been a strong commitment as well as close cooperation with every part of society, including businesses, researcher, environmental organizations, and consumers.

1) Sweden to Become World’s First Oil- Free Economy. In 2005, a complete program was created in Sweden to reduce total dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. In 2006, the commission created a report “Making Sweden an OIL-FREE Society.” Through a team of industrialist, farmers, academics, civil servants, and a host of other businesses, the goal is to get the country of over nine mission people weaned off of it.

2) Raising Renewable Energy Bar. Sweden has provided a number of mechanisms to assist it in lowering its reliance on oil and increased reliance on renewable energy sources. This has included large-scale investments in the research and development of renewable energy, expansion of district heating initiatives, not charging an energy tax on fuel that does not have carbon dioxide in it, raising taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and energy, grants for long-term climate research, and investments into technologies that are environmentally friendly.

3) Leader of Renewable Energy in the European Union. Because of the increase in renewable energy sources throughout Sweden, it has been at the top of the European Union list for renewable energy. The European Union has the goal of producing more than 40 percent of energy from renewable sources, and currently, Sweden is topping that at 44.4 percent.

4) Large Investment Opportunities. Sweden offers a wide range of investment opportunities into the clean technology centers. As the country embraces going green and becoming energy efficient, they have realized the need to increase the cleantech sector through investment opportunities in order to reach their goals of fossil fuel independence. There have been multiple business opportunities in the areas of bioenergy, biofuels, solar power, and wind power. As reported by Cleantech Scandinavia, the leading investor network in the Nordic region, Sweden saw 82 cleantech deals take place at $171 million euro during 2009. Because Sweden has a good track record of supplying innovative solutions, has a large market, an internationally friendly business environment, high productivity levels, first rate infrastructure, and a huge base for research and development, it has become very popular for international investments.

5) Sweden has extremely strong support group in financial institution and corporate and strategic partners including such companies as: Sustainable Technologies Fund, IKEA GreenTech, Industrifonden, Fouriertransform, Innovations Kapital, Northzone Ventures, Pegroco Invest, SEB Venture Capital, Swedish Energy Agency, Midroc New Technology Volvo Technology Transfer and other investors such as EQT, 3i and 2, 3, 6 and 7th pension funds.

6) Increase in the Use of Biomass. Sweden, as one of the countries that has gotten the farthest on independence from fossil fuels, has been increasing their production and usage of biofuels in the year. By 2009, Sweden was able to go up to 115 terrawatt hours of biomass energy consumption generation. Biomass is now becoming the number one source of energy generation, surpassing that of oil. It presently accounts for more than 30 percent of the energy consumption in the country. In 2011, the biomass consumption level is said to increase by another ten percent.

7) Long Term Program for a Sustainable Energy System. In order to maintain the impact clean technologies have had on Sweden, a long term program needed to be developed. The program would bolster the research, development, and demonstration of sustainable supply, distribution, as well as use of energy. The purpose of a long term program would be to decrease the overall cost of using renewable energy sources to it will continue to be seen as an alternative to fossil fuels that is economically viable. The program wants to put increased emphasis on the use of biofuels, although wind and hydro-electric power will also be focused on, as well as solar heating. As part of the program, energy conservation technologies will be developed and measures will be created to decrease the electricity use in domestic and operational buildings.

8) Creating Sustainable Jobs. Part of Sweden’s overall goal, aside from moving to an oil-free nation, is the creation of more green jobs. For example, in the bioenergy industry, every one terawatt hour of biofuel will create between 250 and 300 new jobs. So an increase to 50 terrawatt hours would provide the Swedish population with 24,000 jobs. If Sweden then includes the manufacturing of equipment, along with the potential for exporting, thousands of more jobs will be produced.

9) Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Since 1990, Swedish emissions have dropped to nine percent by 2008 and it is still going. Sweden has been a leading international example in reducing emissions while still maintaining growth. One of the largest reasons for the reduction was the replacement of oil-fired heating with biofuels.

10) Energy Efficiency Leader. Sweden has been long standing as a leader in energy efficiency. In 2009, the country took the helm of the European Union and the primary goal was energy efficiency. Because of the work the country has done to reduce dependence, it has been seen as a leader. A climate campaigner at Friends of Earth Europe, Esther Bollendorff, said that the Swedish presidency was the best option to assist in leading the EU to its 2020 goals because of the country’s positive work with energy efficiency.

Article by Shawn Lesser, president and co- founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at shawn.lesser@sworldcap.com

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  1. There are deeper, systemic reasons for Sweden’s environmental bent. (I thought this article would touch on those so I could send it around!) The facets above all flow from Sweden’s no petroleum imports by 2012 policy, but that policy is the result of the top 10 reasons Sweden is a cleantech leader. Keep in mind, too, that Sweden’s economic thwack is seeing a pullback on many subsidized solutions, such as the wastewater innovations.

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