In accordance with the Electricity Act, a high-voltage cable may not, as a general rule, be built or used without a network concession. Exceptions to the licensing obligation are contained in the Ordinance (2007:215) on exemptions from the requirement for network concessions under the Electricity Act. Previously, a concession was required for laying a cable both between properties and between buildings or facilities within the same property, but an amendment to the Ordinance entered into force at the start of the year which broadened the ability to lay such cables without a concession.
As a prerequisite for the exemption, the network should be an internal ground-based low-voltage network for the purpose of sharing energy. If sharing to buildings or facilities on other properties is to take place, these must also be connected to a cable or cable network used pursuant to a network concession. Transmission of electricity on behalf of another may take place on the low-voltage network regardless of whether the facilities have different owners. The changes to the rules are based on a proposal by the study Modern Permit Processes for Electricity Networks (SOU 2019:30) and make Sweden one of the first countries in Europe to allow energy sharing between properties in micro-networks.
The changes in the regulations serve to expand the possibilities for sharing energy in the area where it is produced. For example, private individuals, industrial companies and tenant-owner associations can share the surplus from solar cells with neighbouring properties or other buildings on their own property. The rules applying previously were to some extent an obstacle to the full potential of solar cells, but now local photovoltaic facilities are able to supply a larger area with renewable electricity, which provides more opportunities for self-consumption of locally-produced energy. This improves conditions for and profitability of investments in both solar cells and energy storage.
A combination of solar cells, energy storage and transmission between buildings allows for excellent control over energy consumption. Storing energy in batteries allows consumers to avoid power peaks by consuming the stored energy when the demand for electricity is at its highest. The fact that a local network can operate during outages in the public electricity grid also helps provide greater security for electricity users.
Higher local production also means that the power output on networks subject to concessions can be reduced. This will achieve more efficient use of the electricity grid and less vulnerability in the energy supply. In view of the high electricity prices over the winter and greater awareness of the challenges associated with the electricity supply, an unloading of the national grid is a welcome development, particularly in parts of the country where there is a shortage of capacity. According to data from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), what are referred to as “energy communities” have the potential to halve the need for power and at the same time reduce energy use by up to a third for the properties forming part of the community.
In conclusion, the new changes to the rules should be seen as good news for companies and private individuals with their own electricity production, for society’s transition to green energy and for the stability of the Swedish electricity supply.