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Sweden: Wind power increased 40 percent over past year

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic

Swedish energy authorities say the wind power industry in this Nordic nation has "wind in its sails," with a 40 percent boost in the past year alone.

The Swedish government has set a goal of increasing wind power several times over by 2020 to provide badly needed energy for this cold-climate country.

The total production of wind electricity now matches the output of all of Sweden's 10 nuclear power reactors for a month. But the reactors are frequently closed for repairs and inspection even during the long and icy winter months when energy is badly needed in the country's frozen North.

Speaking to Radio Sweden News, Gunnar Fredriksson -- vice chairman of the Swedish wind power interest organization -- says 2011 has been another record year. One reason is that the diminishing value of the euro has made it cheaper to buy wind power turbines and other equipment abroad. Another is the long battles over getting licenses to set up new wind power stations has been settled. A third is the new models of wind power turbines are more effective.

Those giant, spinning blades that earlier had been producing 3,000 MW hours of electricity now produce 4,000 -- a 30 percent increase. And costs per unit have been declining, increasing interest in expanding the industry, along with a subsidy from the state.

The Swedish government has set a 2010 goal of a multi-doubling of power production with an eye especially along the Swedish coastlines, where more wind power turbines at sea are to be the promise of a wind-blown future.

There's also interest in the sparsely populated and vast northern forest regions, unlike the more densely populated south, where homeowners and communities sometimes fight wind power projects, blaming them for ruining their views and disturbing television reception.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.