One of the biggest and most time-pressing of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is transforming our energy system to make it more sustainable. The climate issue largely depends on how we succeed in the transition to renewable energy production. The energy sector currently accounts for about a third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions through its use of coal, oil and natural gas. As the world’s population grows and developing nations experience positive economic growth over the coming decades, the demand for energy will increase significantly.
Ending our dependence on fossil energy is therefore critical if we are to reach the targets of the Paris Agreement while also achieving Goal 7, affordable and clean energy, and will require huge investments in solar energy and wind power in particular, as well as investments to harness biomass for the production of electricity, heat and other energy carriers such as biogas and biofuels.
In order to ensure that these investments are made, the right business conditions are needed alongside global, regional and national policy instruments and financial support. With the significant electrification of the transport sector, the challenges of the energy and transport systems become intertwined. Together, they account for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Making energy use more efficient is also an important condition for creating more sustainable energy systems. Energy efficiency improvements within the property sector, industry and transport are therefore prioritised under Goal 7.
Although Sweden’s energy system is already largely renewable, plenty of challenges still remain. Increased use of electricity within industry and the transport sector places very high demands in terms of new power generation in Sweden. And despite the significant expansion of wind power in recent years, there is still a need for new generation, improved transmission capacity and a sharp focus on energy efficiency. The challenges within the Swedish electricity system also include a need for sufficient power, meaning that energy must be available in the right place at the right time, and this is not always currently the case. Both southern Sweden and certain metropolitan regions have reported shortcomings in this respect.
Research at the School of Business, Economics and Law
The School’s research within this area focuses on how different actors – especially on the supply side of the energy system – deal with business challenges in investments or in the transition towards more circular business models.
Several research projects are looking into how energy users are affected by different policy instruments (both economic and behavioural interventions), either by studying how these instruments affect the various actors’ behaviours or by examining other more indirect effects of policy instruments, such as actors’ competitiveness.
Energy efficiency improvements
One important aspect of transforming today’s energy system is making energy use more efficient. This mainly involves energy efficiency improvements within the residential and property sectors, and within industry and the transport sector, as well as creating incentives to even out consumption over time and thus make better use of existing production resources. Several researchers are working on questions of how energy efficiency policy instruments affect different actors, and how these instruments can be designed to increase interest in these measures.