Sweden’s Armed Forces have vetoed the 300MW Taggen offshore wind project Vattenfall has been developing with infrastructure firm Wallenstam, a second offshore array to be shot down off the southern province of Blekinge.
“It is regrettable that we are now forced to put down a major renewable energy project that we, together with Wallenstam, have been developing for over 10 years. Now we must focus on taking lessons from Taggen into the next offshore project,” said the project’s chairman Mattias Sjöberg.
The new setback for offshore wind in Sweden comes after the government in 2016 rejected a permit for the up to 2.5GW Blekinge offshore wind project by developer Eolus as it was close to a strategically important practice area for the Armed Forces.
Taggen had already obtained an environmental permit in 2012, but Vattenfall due to the rapid technological development in offshore wind had asked for changes in the permit to allow for the installation of higher, but fewer, wind turbines.
When the new permit application went on a referral, the Swedish Defense Forces vetoed not only the change application, but the project as such, Vattenfall said, due to its vicinity to the Ravlunda shooting range.
Sweden had decided to beef up its military – and some even lobby for the hitherto neutral country to join NATO – in a reaction to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, its involvement in Eastern Ukraine, illegal fly-overs with fighter jets over the Baltic States, and repeated violations of Swedish national waters by Russian submarines.
Blekinge is the region off which a Soviet submarine ran aground in 1981 only 10 kilometres off the coast of Sweden, in an international incident later dubbed as ‘Whiskey on the rocks’ that had painfully shown Sweden’s helplessness in the face of Russian interference.
Vattenfall continues with its Swedish Kriegers Flak (a 640MW project on the Swedish side of the sea boarder not to be mixed up with the 600MW project on the Danish side with the same name) and Stora Middelgrund offshore wind projects that combined have about 1.5GW in capacity.
Offshore wind in Sweden could have a revival once the government goes ahead with a plan to waive grid connection fees for projects in the Baltic Sea. The government is currently waiting for a green light from the incoming European Commission to make sure its proposals for the grid fee waiver are in accordance with EU state aid rules.