Sweden aims at becoming one of the first fossil-free welfare countries in the world. In line with that goal, ambitious energy and climate targets were announced in 2009. The focus of this paper is energy efficiency, since its progress towards the 2020 target lags in relation to the other energy and climate policy targets. Statistical methods for time series analysis are applied in order to compare the country’s performance in comparison to the EU-28 average and explore the potential development of energy use at national and sectoral level in the years up to 2020. The results show that Swedish progress with energy efficiency does not stand out within the EU-28, in contrast with other energy and climate targets. The trend analysis also shows that it is uncertain whether the targets for 2020 will be achieved. Energy intensity may not be the most appropriate indicator for monitoring energy efficiency improvement, and absolute final energy savings should be used instead. The analysis for the three main Swedish end-use sectors shows decreasing final energy use trends in the past ten years. However, none of the sectors is expected to show strongly decreasing trends in the upcoming years. In order to enhance the role of energy efficiency in energy and climate policy, its contribution in reducing emissions should be clarified and promoted. Finally, increased simplicity and transparency should be established when setting targets for energy efficiency and monitoring progress.
Sweden aims to become one of the first fossil-free welfare countries in the world. In 2009, specific energy and climate policy targets were announced for 2020, which exceed the ambition of respective EU targets in some areas. The overarching objective of the thesis is to understand the role of energy efficiency in Swedish energy and climate policy frameworks, and identify the gaps that need to be addressed. In this context, energy efficiency is recognized as a challenge to address. Yet, there are reasons to believe that it is not being pursued with the same dedication as other energy and climate-related targets.
This hypothesis is tested using Mixed Methods research, with cases on different sectors of the Swedish economy, namely energy intensive industry and public bus transport, as well as comparisons with energy efficiency within the EU-28. With the help of abductive reasoning, the observations are inferred to an explanation, and common themes for Swedish energy efficiency policies emerge.
The evidence indicates that energy efficiency has received lower priority than other energy and climate policies. This is demonstrated by the conflict between energy efficiency, emission reduction and renewable energy targets, for example in the case of public transport. There is generally a mismatch between targets and the instruments in place. Thus more attention should be given to energy efficiency and its potential benefits for the Swedish energy system.
Opportunities for energy efficiency improvements are not being fully realized, but new policy initiatives could provide the necessary support to harness the potential. In-depth evaluation of new policy instruments should be integrated in the policy-making process, in order to provide a clear picture of costs versus benefits. An example is given with a Cost-Benefit Analysis for energy efficiency obligations targeting the Swedish energy intensive industry.
Simplicity and transparency in the introduction and monitoring of new instruments need to be sought for. Energy efficiency should be given first priority in relation to other energy and climate targets. The basis for future policies should be grounded now in order for energy efficiency to become the key for successful Swedish energy policy.