MW-sized solar parks proliferate in Sweden

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Sweden’s power distributor, Göteborg Energi AB, has announced plans for two solar parks with a combined capacity of 6 MW in Säve and Gårdsten near Gothenburg, in Västra Götaland County, southern Sweden.

Part of the two facilities, the company said in a press release, will be allocated to shared ownership for private individuals.

The 5 MW park in Säve will be located in the northern part of an airfield, in an area owned by local industrial group Serneke, which will also buy part of the energy produced. The project is expected to be completed in the autumn, the group said in a separate press release.

“Serneke has also reserved additional land alongside Göteborg Energi’s solar cell park for the purpose of expanding the solar cell facility, although in that case, under its own initiative,” the company stated.

As for the second 1 MW project, in Gårdsten, Göteborg Energi said the proposal came from private citizens with no opportunity of deploying solar on their rooftops. The plant is expected to be built as a community solar project with the support of the local municipality. “Exactly how the ownership will be configured is not clear, due in part to the outcome of a government investigation into tax reduction for jointly owned renewable electricity generation [that is] in progress,” the company said.

According to Johan Lindahl, spokesperson for the Swedish Solar Association, there are several operational and under development MW-sized solar parks in Sweden. In a statement to pv magazine, he revealed that the total capacity of centralized PV systems in in the Nordic nation was 11.7 MW at the end of 2017, including five plants that exceed 1 MW in size. The biggest, owned by Varberg Energi, is currently 2.7 MW. Two of the biggest parks are selling power through a private PPA while the remaining three are delivering electricity to the spot market and receiving bonus income from the Swedish green certificate system.

Some 33.1 MW of capacity is accounted for by existing and planned projects of 1 MW and larger. That comprises 13 initiatives – including the two Göteborg Energi projects – with a size of 0.8 MW to 7 MW and developed by local municipality-owned utilities including Kalmar, Luleå, Falu, Trollhättan and Lidkoping. The business model for the planned projects is to sell shares to local businesses and individuals.  Four of the projects are planned on former landfill sites.

Swedish PV has been driven mostly by the residential and commercial segments, as a result of a policy of rebates for rooftop PV. No support is being granted solar parks by the Swedish government, except through its green electricity certificate system. The amount of installed solar in the Norwegian-Swedish electricity certificate system, however, has increased considerably in the last three years.

The Norwegian-Swedish joint electricity certificate system for renewable energies was revived in April 2017 after both governments agreed to extend it through 2030. Electricity certificates, Swedish and Norwegian, are traded on the Nord Pool exchange with the price agreed between purchasers and sellers. The certificates are released to renewable energy producers by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) and the Swedish Energy Agency, for the first 15 years of a power project’s lifetime.