“We hope to put Sweden back into pole position,” Sebastian Hald Buhl, the head of Ørsted’s business in Sweden, told the TT newswire.
Sweden, he said, in many ways had the perfect pre-conditions for a booming offshore wind industry, with good sea winds in the Baltic, and a competent supply chain in the country.
Sweden had been a pioneer in offshore wind in the late 1990s, Buhl said, with pioneering pilot projects built off the coast of Blekinge, but Denmark had ended up pushing ahead while Sweden fell behind, with the former creating 30,000 jobs in its booming wind farm industry, and helping create multinational companies such as Vestas and Ørsted.
Buhl said that the government go-aheads given to two big wind farms outside Varberg and Falkenberg in May suggested that the industry was starting to gain momentum.
“That was two projects, and it’s extremely good, but it’s not enough when you look at the energy requirements of Swedish industry and Swedish households in the future,” he said.
He said an important next step would be approval for Ørsted’s planned windpark off the coast of Skåne. “This is been dragging on a bit, but that’s not so strange. This is a new industry,” he said.
There were hopeful signs, he said, that approvals were being given more quickly. “A step in the process which used to take two to three years can now be done in two to three months.”
“So we are seeing a very positive development.”
Vattenfall recently had its plan for the Stora Middelgrund project outside Halmstad rejected by the regional government.
Buhl warned that if Sweden did not manage to make getting approvals for projects easier, investment could easily go elsewhere.
“We have a global investment plan for 550 billion kronor between 2021 and 2027,” he said. “If Sweden doesn’t give permits this year, or perhaps, next year, there won’t be any components left. There won’t be any turbines available to buy when all the projects in Germany, the UK and Norway are up and running.”