National Innovation pathway

The Swedish energy policy has the same three pillars as the EU Energy policy: competitiveness, sustainable development, and security of supply. As a member of the EU, Sweden also shares the goals of the EU.

The core of the clean energy innovation efforts is the programme for energy research and innovation. The programme is seen as a component of the energy policy, enabling a sustainable energy system as well as economic development, employment and exports.

The current goals of the energy research and innovation programme are to contribute to reaching the overall goals of the Swedish energy, climate, and environment policy. Furthermore, the energy research and innovation programme should:

  • Build scientific and technological knowledge and competence to enable a sustainable Swedish energy system through the use of new products and services,
  • To help develop new technology and services that can be introduced on the market by Swedish industry, thereby contributing to sustainable development and the development of the energy system both in Sweden and on other markets, and
  • Contribute to, and take advantage of, international collaboration in the energy sector.

The programme focus is adjusted from time to time but in general targets the three main parts of the energy sector – transport, industry and the built environment – as well as the electricity system, the grid and the electricity supply, as well as bioenergy and negative emissions. In addition, the programme prioritizes broader and more general themes like energy storage, digitalisation, the circular economy, and social and economic sustainability.

The Swedish Energy Agency is a national administration responsible for implementing Government energy and climate policy initiatives. Focus is on transforming the Swedish energy system into an ecological and economically sustainable system. This is done i. a. by guiding state capital towards the area of energy in collaboration with trade and industry, energy companies, municipalities, and the research community. For more information, please visit www.energimyndigheten.se.

The Swedish Energy agency uses support for different stages of the innovation system depending on the nature of the barriers that stand in the way of desired development: funding for basic but energy-related research, university research, research and development in collaboration with industry, pilot- and demonstration projects, and support for commercialisation and product development. Sweden has good experiences from public-private-partnership initiatives.

Activities are mostly in the form of programmes, centres, or consortia. Funding is available for universities, institutes, industry, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

The Swedish government prepares a budget bill each year. In this, the activities and results of the previous year is described and the funding for the coming year proposed for the parliament to decide. Estimates of funding for a further two years are also given.

The 2021 government bill on Energy Research and Innovation is currently under preparation and will be submitted to parliament later this year. More details on coming activities may be available after the summer of -21.

Furthermore, a government bill on research and innovation policy is prepared every four years, including, so far, a separate bill for energy research and innovation. For these bills, a more ambitious review and evaluation of the preceding four years is carried out and guidelines and for the coming four-year period are given.

In addition to this, there are separate initiatives and activities.

An electrification strategy is under development as a central part of attaining a Swedish sustainable energy system. It is expected to be ready mid autumn. It is possible that the strategy will point to areas where increased R&I is needed.

Currently, a hydrogen strategy is being prepared. Also, in this case, areas for increased R&I may be pointed out.

In relation to hydrogen, there is also a work on fossil-free steel manufacture, e.g. through the Hybrit project.

Sweden also runs a Strategic Innovation Programme called Viable Cities, which is, so far, the largest R&I initiative in Sweden on climate-neutral and sustainable cities.

Among areas of high priority, the following can be mentioned:

  • Digitalisation and the smart electricity system
  • Batteries and storage
  • Electrification as a way to enable a sustainable energy system
  • Electrification of the transport system
  • Negative emissions

It should however be noted that Areas of intervention are to some extent left unspecified as to technology: The philosophy is that we have the overall aims of increasing efficiency, decreasing negative impacts on climate and environment, providing energy and electricity at competitive prices etc. and that it would be inefficient and maybe even counterproductive for the state to guess beforehand which technologies would best provide this.