Minister welcomes plan for expanded hydropower

18 April, 2023

Vattenfall is planning to expand hydropower at four locations in Sweden.

It is a very welcome announcement, says Environment and Climate Minister Romina Pourmokhtari (L).

The increasing demand for electricity means that state-owned Vattenfall wants to expand the existing hydropower at four locations in Sweden. Feasibility studies are now underway, says Johan Dasht, the head of Vattenfall’s Nordic hydropower.

– We are investigating whether we can increase the water flow and install new units in Porjus, Harsprånget, and Messaure.

The map shows the places where Vattenfall wants to expand existing hydropower. Graphics: Anders Humlebo TT

– There are already large hydropower plants there. They are all relatively old; the last facilities in Sweden were built in the 70s and 80s, he says.

– In Juktan, where there is a small hydropower plant today, we are investigating whether it is possible to rebuild it into a large pumping station.

– This would allow us to pump up water when there is a lot of excess capacity, for example from wind power. This means that hydropower can become more flexible. In total, it is an expansion that provides 720 new megawatts, which means an addition of capacity that corresponds to approximately nine percent of Vattenfall’s total hydropower production.

According to Johan Dasht, the impact on the environment appears to be limited. However, we will only see how big it will be when we have done the feasibility study.

He cannot say now how much the investments may cost, but it is estimated to be several billion. Now, a first feasibility study is to be done, where both costs, profitability, and environmental impact will be investigated, he says. The main reason for the expansion is the increasing demand for electricity.

According to Johan Dasht, there are currently no plans for further development of rivers that have not yet been developed.

Good idea

The Environment and Climate Minister thinks that Vattenfall’s plans sound like a good idea. She emphasizes that all fossil-free energy production needs to be expanded in Sweden, and the rate needs to increase.

– I think it is important to be clear that political support is there, she says when she meets journalists ahead of a meeting with the EU’s environment ministers in Stockholm.

– We need to expand all fossil-free energy production to the extent that we can. This is a good example of that.

Conflicting interests

At the same time, environmental and nature interests oppose the need for more energy.

– I can promise that Sweden will continue to consider our strong environmental laws, and we will make balanced assessments – natural environment versus the expansion of our energy production, says Pourmokhtari.

For Vattenfall, this is a unique project.

– Hydropower is the backbone of power production. It accounts for 40 percent of our energy production, says Johan Dasht.

– At the same time, the permit processes can take a long time. One of the projects could be in operation as early as 2026, and the others in 2031 at the earliest.

Picture represents: Miljöminister Romina Pourmokhtari (L) at EU:s meeting of environment ministers.

Text: TT/Nyhetsbyrån
Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
Graphics: Anders Humlebo TT

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