“Sun, wind and water – the best things in life” sang Swedish star Ted Gärdestad many years ago. The Lindell family’s electricity is produced from the sun and water. When the time came for them to choose which type of electricity they would use when the sun’s rays were not up to the job, the choice was between wind and water. Alicja wanted the family to go for wind, while Nils wanted electricity from water. In true family spirit they chose to start off with hydro-power and to switch to wind-power when the time comes to renegotiate their electricity contract.
Everyone is allowed to specify their preferred source of electricity – wind, water or nuclear power. Or a mixture of all three.
When I’m asked what I would choose, I always preface my answer with a brief description of how electricity is produced in different parts of the world and in Sweden. 68% of the world’s electricity comes from fossil fuels, 13% comes from nuclear power and 19% from renewable energy sources. In Sweden, which has an abundance of hydro-power, half comes from renewable energy sources and half from nuclear power plants and combined power & heating stations (district heating plants with electricity production or industries with electricity production). Two percent of Swedish electricity comes from wind-power.
And then I generally ask a question of my own: how important is it to you?
There are many ways to assess our energy sources. From the purely engineering viewpoint one way is to conduct a lifecycle analysis, that is to say calculate the environmental footprint from the cradle to the grave. Another is to just look at the environmental impact while the power stations are in operation. The environmental impact from electricity production differs between different power sources. Electricity production in Sweden has very low emissions of CO2 compared with the world average since we do not use fossil fuels.
Follow the example of the Lindells, choose how you want your electricity to be produced!
The photograph is from the Akkats hydro-power station outside Jokkmokk.
Lars Ejeklint, Vattenfall