Today, wind power accounts for a significant portion of electricity generation in Sweden. Thanks to its low cost of energy generation and low carbon footprint, wind power is the fastest growing source of electricity production within the EU.
Sweden has excellent conditions for establishing large-scale wind farms, with extensive areas of land, good wind conditions and a stable, deregulated electricity market. Wind power expansion has surged ahead in Sweden, making us one of the European countries with the most wind power as a percentage of our total electricity generation. Wind power is expected to play an even greater role in the energy system of the future, as a planned phase-out of nuclear power will create a need for new generation capacity.
Recent years have seen great technical advances in wind power with longer blades, larger generators and higher towers dramatically reducing the cost of wind power per kilowatt hour produced. As a consequence, wind power is now the cheapest way of producing new renewable electricity in Sweden.
A modern wind turbine can produce up to 15–20 GWh per year depending on the wind conditions. That is enough to power around 1 000 Swedish homes per year.
Wind power is an entirely fossil-free source of electricity that creates no pollution. From a life cycle perspective, where the whole production and transport chain is taken into account, a wind turbine has offset its entire energy and material-related impact after around 6–8 months in production.
Holmen’s land is certified to the FSC® standard (FSC-ID), which means that we pay extra attention to our environmental impact in the areas where we establish wind power, and we never erect wind turbines in areas that have high conservation value or are key biotopes. The main negative impact that a wind turbine has on local wildlife relates to unavoidable collisions with birds and bats. According to a report by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, however, the risk is so small that it can be considered marginal in comparison with the impact of other human activities.
As a rule of thumb, wind turbines are generally placed at a distance of around 1 000 m from the nearest residence. This minimises shadow flicker, the immediate noise impact and the risk of injury from falling ice in winter. Some people feel that wind turbines have a negative impact on the look of the landscape, while others have a more positive attitude. Generally speaking, as knowledge of wind power’s climate benefits has grown, the positive attitudes have also increased.
The sound from a wind turbine is caused mainly by the large rotor blades as they move through the air. This creates a swishing sound that can sometimes be heard from quite a long distance. The perceived sound level is affected by many factors, such as the prevailing weather and wind conditions, the distance from the wind turbine and other sounds in the area. A sound level of 40 dBA (decibels) is used as the official standard for wind turbines located near a residential area.