The Energy Commission learns from political history

Friday 29 April 2016

Magnus Brandel.jpg

What did energy policy look like between 1975 and 2009? The Energy Commission has compiled information on the energy policy decisions of the past three decades.

In total 13 important energy policy decisions were made during that time: from the 1975 energy bill to the 2009 energy agreement (the only decision taken without the agreement of the Social Democrats). Commissions and committees have been appointed on five different occasions to study the energy system.

“It was interesting to study how politicians addressed energy issues over a 30-year period. There has been a lot of back and forth in our energy policy, but today there’s reason to be humble because we’re talking about a long period of time,” says Magnus Brandel.

At the request of the Energy Commission he has produced a report that looks at parliamentary pressure, commissions and other official information. (In Swedish) One of the reasons for the report was to study how energy policy decisions came about and which parties were involved.

“The parties that support the decisions are usually the Social Democrats, Centre party and Left Party. Sometimes the Moderate party and the Liberals have been behind them as well.”

“In the 1970s a growing political notion was that supply, use and distribution of electricity are all connected and that a common approach was needed to control the development of the energy system. There was also an eye-opening discussion on growth limits and whether nuclear power should exist or not. Nuclear power in particular has been a shadow following the energy policy debate ever since,” says Magnus

“I, like many others, voted for the Line 3 proposal in the 1980 referendum in order to speed up development of renewable energy sources by voting to get rid of nuclear power. But since then we have realised that renewable energy sources have actually developed best during periods of political consensus on all aspects of the energy issue, including nuclear.”

In his report Magnus Brandel draws the conclusion that the EU has had a greater influence on Swedish energy policy decisions since Sweden joined in 1994. The reason is that, in many cases, Sweden has been at the forefront in terms of implementing the EU’s energy policy.

“Sweden has always been top of the class in the EU in things like deregulation and renewable energy sources. In many cases there was therefore no reason for our decisions to be in conflict with EU regulations.”

Magnus Brandel is not providing any recommendations to today’s Energy Commission in his report. He does, however, say that it is important to have broad political agreement and for politicians to be involved early on in the decision process.

You can find the report here. (In Swedish)