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ENERGY

Sweden’s parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Sweden's Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderates on a goal of cutting peak power consumption by 5 percent as part of an EU scheme.

Sweden's parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption
Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar speaks to the press at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin / TT

Now the election is over, both parties seem willing to consider ways to encourage citizens to reduce power use, an obvious measure to reduce winter power prices that was conspicuously absent from the campaign. 

At the same time, the Moderates are downplaying their election campaign pledge to bring in “high-cost protection” to reimburse citizens for much of the impact of high power costs by the start of November. 

At a meeting of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, the two parties agreed that both the caretaker Social Democrat government and the incoming Moderate-led government should take action to cut power consumption by between 5 percent and 10 percent. 

“If we succeed in carrying this out on a coordinated EU level, we will be on the way to at the very least halving electricity prices,” Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar told Sweden’s TT newswire. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” agreed Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday. 

But he said that meeting the goal would be very much dependent on outside factors, particularly how cold the winter is in Sweden. 

“Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms,” he said. “In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

The Moderates are agreed that the public sector should reduce “unnecessary power consumption”, but have yet to agree on measures that households should take, such as reducing indoor temperatures or turning off the lights. 

At the same time, Bohlin admitted on Wednesday that the high-cost protection that Ulf Kristersson pledged in the campaign by November 1st, may be delayed by the government negotiations. 

“We promised high-cost protection from November 1st, on the condition that a new government was in place rapidly,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. “The problem is that Svenska kraftnät [the company that owns and operates Sweden’s power grid], is working to another schedule, one given by the current government.” 

The outgoing Social Democrat government has given Svenska kraftnät until November 15th to propose a system for high-cost protection. The cash paid back to households and businesses would be taken from the bottle-neck income which the grid operator receives as a result of capacity shortages in the network. 

The outgoing Social Democrats have also changed their rhetoric since the end of the campaign .

On September 9th, two days before the election took place, the Social Democrat government framed a meeting of EU ministers on September 9th as a “breakthrough” in the EU negotiations. 

Farmanbar is now describing it as “a process”. 

“What we can promise right now is that we’re going to work as hard as we can to get a breakthrough,” he said. 

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NORD STREAM

Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 

Nord Stream, the company which owns and operates the gas pipeline hit by suspected sabotage last month, has said it cannot examine the pipeline because it has not been given permission by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian authorities. 

Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 

The twin Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been leaking huge quantities of gas since they were damaged in a series of suspected explosions on September 26th. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Nord Stream AG, the company which owns and operates the pipelines, said it had so far been unable to carry out its own inspections. 

“As of today, Nord Stream AG is unable to inspect the damaged sections of the gas pipeline due to the lack of earlier requested necessary permits,” the company, which is 51 percent owned by the Russian gas giant Gazprom, wrote. 

“In particular,” it added, “according to the Swedish authorities, a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea.”

“According to information received from the Danish authorities, the processing time of the Nord Stream AG request for the survey may take more than 20 working days.”

The company said it was also being blocked by Norwegian authorities. 

Nord Stream has chartered “an appropriately equipped” survey vessel in Norway, the company wrote, but the vessel has been denied the “green light from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to depart for the Baltic.

Swedish prosecutors on Monday imposed a ban on all marine traffic, submarines and drones on the entire region around the leaks, with some commentators questioning the legality of the ban.

The prosecutors say they have made the decision because police are carrying out “a crime scene investigation”. 

“The investigation continues, we are in an intensive stage. We have good cooperation with several authorities in the matter. I understand the great public interest, but we are at the beginning of a preliminary investigation and I therefore cannot go into details about which investigative measures we are taking,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a press release. 

Sweden’s security police Säpo took over the investigation from the police on September 28th, on the grounds that the suspected crime “could at least partly have been directed at Swedish interests”. 

“It cannot be ruled out that a foreign power lies behind this,” it said in a press release. Ljungqvist leads the Swedish prosecution agency’s National Unit for Security Cases.

In a statement on Sunday, Säpo said they were working “intensively” with the Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Armed Forces to investigate who might be responsible for the sabotage.

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