Research themes and prioritisationTop
RD&D priorities in Sweden’s public sector and research-intensive universities are need-driven, focusing on energy and environmental goals that are relevant to Swedish industry. The Energy RD&D programme, based first on the 2006 Energy Research Bill and now on the 2012 Bill, focuses on understanding the needs of users, disseminating R&D results, deploying technologies and services, building up scientific and technological knowledge and competence, and further increasing collaboration with different stakeholders at both national and international levels.
In 2011 the Energy RD&D programme covered some 40 active sub-programmes and 700 projects. Following the 2012 ‘Government Bill on Research and Innovation for a Sustainable Energy System’, since 2013 there have been five priority areas: a vehicle fleet independent of fossil fuels; a power system designed around renewable electricity; energy efficiency in the built environment; increased use of bioenergy; and energy efficiency in industry.
Organisation of researchTop
The Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) manages the National Energy Research Programme. The Agency cooperates with three other government bodies: the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), the Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA). The Energy Research and Development Board (EUN), whose members are appointed by the government, is the ultimate decision-making body for the Swedish Energy Agency.
In most cases government-financed energy R&D is co-financed by private companies and other organisations. Among these are Elforsk, which is owned by Swedish electricity suppliers and network operators. Other private R&D actors in energy include ABB, Vattenfall, the Swedish Steel Producers’ Association, Scania and Volvo.
Energy R&D includes so-called ‘Competence Centres’. These were established by the former Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development (NUTEK) in 1995 to conduct interdisciplinary applied research in areas relevant to industry’s long-term goals. The Swedish Energy Agency at present finances seven Competence Centres. The Centres are all co-financed by their respective host universities, the Agency and various industrial alliances, each of these groups contributing about one-third of the budget.
Figure 1: Most important organisations in the energy-related infrastructure of Sweden.
Programmes and budgetsTop
The aims of Sweden’s energy RD&D policy are to facilitate the transition to a sustainable energy system and to support the development and commercialisation of new energy technologies and services that will reduce both CO2 emissions and fossil fuel dependency. Co-financing of, and by, the innovation and business sectors is a vital component of this policy.
Over the past decade Sweden has steadily increased its energy RD&D spending. During the period 1975–2011 the country spent €2.8 billion, followed by a significant increase in 2009–2011 as funds for demonstration projects were made available. The country has become a leader in innovation and research in several clean energy technologies, including second-generation biofuels and smart grids.
Table 1: Financing of energy RD&D in Sweden, 2009–2011 (rounded figures, based on ‘Energy Policies of IEA Countries. Sweden 2013’, Table 10, p.144).
Table 2: The main energy research programme in Sweden.
Programmes and initiatives
Fordonsstrategisk Forskning och Innovation (FFI)
FFI is a partnership between the Swedish government, represented by VINNOVA (the Swedish Government Agency for Innovation Systems; see below), the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Energy Agency and the automotive industry. Initially it was set to run from 2009 to 2012, but it has no definite ending year. Within FFI, the Swedish Energy Agency is responsible for the Energy and Environment programme, which targets vehicle-related research, innovation and development in increased energy efficiency, the transition to renewable fuels, and the reduction of both local and regional environmental impact. The annual budget is approximately €100 million.
Competence centres can be seen as programmes covering certain research areas and the annual budget is approximately €55 million in total. The Competence centres are;
- Biogas Research Centre (BRC),
- Competence Center Combustion Processes (KCFP),
- Swedish Center of Excellence in Electrical Power Engineering (EKC²),
- Competence Centre for Catalysis (KCK),
- High Temperature Corrosion Centre (HTC),
- Combustion Engine Research Center (CERC),
- Competence Center for Gas Exchange (CCGEx).
The Fuel Programmes consist of three sub-programmes focusing on different aspects of the production and processing of biomass. The programmes are managed by the Swedish Energy Agency and have a total budget of approximately €30 million for the period 2011–2014.
Demonstrationsprogram för elfordon
The Demonstration Programme for Electric Vehicles aims to eliminate the barriers – from the point of view of potential users – to the large-scale introduction of electric vehicles in Sweden. The programme will run from 2011 to mid-2015. The budget for that period will be €23.7 million.
The overall goal of the Ethanol Processes Programme is to build up expertise in the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol. The total budget for the period 2011–2015 is €15.4 million.
El och Bränsle från Solen
The Solar Electricity and Solar Fuels Programme covers research in photovoltaics, solar thermal energy and solar fuels (artificial photosynthesis). The resulting technological development in these areas will ultimately allow the increased use of solar energy in Sweden as well as the rest of the world. The total budget for the period 2013–2016 is €14.5 million.
Turbokraft – Elproduktion från termiska turbomaskiner och processer
The aim of the Turbokraft programme is to develop turbomachinery and related processes, plus the associated expertise, for generating electricity from thermal sources. One of its goals is to create an industry that can help to transform Sweden into a society based on sustainable energy. The programme must also provide global environmental benefits and promote the international competitiveness of Swedish industry. The programme is now in its second phase, which runs from 2012 to 2015. The total budget is approximately €14.3 million, of which the Swedish Energy Agency will provide €7.1 million.
The interdisciplinary Energy Systems Programme consists of a graduate school and a research programme. It is implemented through three consortia: Buildings as Energy Systems; Industrial Energy Systems; and Local and Regional Energy Systems, respectively. The objective of the programme is to advance knowledge towards the long-term development of sustainable and resource-efficient energy systems. The programme is managed by the Swedish Energy Agency and has a budget of approximately €14 million for the period 2010–2013.
Resurseffektiva kyl- och värmepumpssystem (EFFSYS+)
EFFSYS+ is a four-year applied R&D programme for the refrigeration and heat pump industry. It runs for the period 2010–2014 and aims to make Swedish industry a world leader in this field. The total budget is €10.4 million, of which the Swedish Energy Agency will contribute €4.3 million.
Effektivisering av industrins energianvändning
This programme supports RD&D projects undertaken by universities, research organisations and the private sector. The objective is to develop tools and knowledge for the development, design and demonstration of energy-efficient industrial processes, and to disseminate the results to Swedish industry. The programme is managed by the Swedish Energy Agency and has a budget of approximately €9.6 million for the period 2010–2014.
Svenskt centrum för smarta elnät och lagring
The programme started in December 2011; it is a partnership of academia, industry and public utilities. The overarching purpose is to develop new and improved devices and methods that will help achieve the European Union’s ambitious targets for greater use of renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency. The total budget is €7.3 million, of which the Swedish Energy Agency will contribute €2.5 million.
National govermment departmentsTop
The Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications is the leader in energy policy; one of its three ministers has the title Minister for Information Technology and Energy. The Ministry’s Energy Division has overall responsibility for coordinating and planning energy policy.
The ministry covers education and research as well as gender equality, policy for civil society and youth policy. Long-term investments in frontier research, increased basic resources to universities and higher education institutions, and major investments in life sciences research are important components.
This ministry is in charge of climate and environmental policy. Its Division for Environmental Quality is responsible for EU and global climate negotiations, climate policy instruments and the promotion of a green economy.
National research programme management agenciesTop
The Swedish Energy Agency operates in various sectors of society to create the conditions needed for efficient and sustainable energy use and a cost-effective Swedish energy supply. It is a separate agency under the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications. It is also responsible for funding and overseeing national energy research programmes.
Funding organisations at national levelTop
Verket för innovationssystem (Vinnova)
Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, works to improve the conditions for innovation, including by providing funding for need-driven research. Vinnova’s activities span 11 strategic areas, including Transport and Environment, Services and ICT, Challenge-driven Innovation, Partnership Programmes, Innovation Capacity in the Public Sector, Innovative Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and EU and International Co-operation.
The Swedish Research Council has a leading role in developing Swedish research of the highest scientific quality and so contributing to the development of society. Besides research funding, the Agency advises the government on research-related issues and promotes wider understanding of the long-term benefits of research. The Agency funds basic research at Swedish universities, colleges and institutes.
The mission of Formas is to promote and support basic research and need-driven research in the areas Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning. The research supported should be of highest scientific quality and of relevance to the areas of responsibility of the Council. Formas may also fund development projects to a limited extent.