Thanks to its central position in the Baltic Sea, Gotland can enjoy the benefits of a never-ending natural resource – the wind. When this resource is used to produce power, there are no emissions. Furthermore, replacing fossil fuel power with wind power contributes significantly to the reduction of climate gas emissions.
What started as a small cooperative on a very local level has today grown into an organisation that plans and sets up large wind farms. Although many of the necessary decisions cannot now be taken locally, local ownership still has a decisive role to play in the exploitation of wind power.
Planning for renewable energy
Wind power plays a lead part in the regional plans for Gotland to have a sustainable energy supply. In this context, the municipality is obliged to have both an energy plan and a “ survey” plan. The latter seeks to avoid negative impact on natural, residential and other man-made environments . Accurate planning, local participation and acceptance are essential. Adopted in 2010, Gotland’s survey plan includes guidelines for the establishment of wind power facilities. Besides picking out onshore and offshore areas suitable for wind power installations, it also marks areas where such development is prohibited (for example of landscape reasons) and includes guidelines to prohibit windpower establishments that may cause disturbances in the neighbourhood.
In planning it is important to:
- identify possible areas for wind power in the aspect of wind resources versus restrictions and conflicting interests of land use,
- calculate visual influence and other factors of disturbance, and
- identify conflicts of interest and validate the clean energy and possible local source of income versus other interests.
There are wind farms at various locations around the island. Sites where large, new farms can be established with no disturbance for residential environments or sensitive, unspoilt countryside are shown in a number of plans. The overall survey plan embodies a possible further 1,000 MW of installed capacity on Gotland.
To ensure reliable and high quality electricity supply on Gotland – a constant frequency and no voltage dips – as well as as transmission of the whole wind power production (and avoid closing down of turbines when production exceed transmission capacity) the local grid company today set a limit at the present 185 MW installed capacity in the grid on Gotland.
In the southwest of Gotland, Näsudden is one of Sweden’s best locations for wind power. It is also one of the pioneer areas for wind power development on Gotland and in Sweden. Näsudden has undergone transition to 2nd generation wind power production.
Development on Gotland
By 2018, providing an installed capacity of around 185 MW, there will be some 150 wind turbines on the island, connected to the electrical grid on Gotland.
In 2016, the wind power production on Gotland was around 432 GWh. This equated to about 45 % of Gotland’s power consumption. Due to less favourable winds the production was around 50 GWh less than 2015.
- Due to the interrupted cable decision, no new parks are underway for now.
- The 1st generation of plants on Gotland had an average installed capacity of 550 kW. Plants installed in 2009–14 each have at least 2 MW capacity. It is considered that, except from small single installations, future plants will have a capacity of at least 2.75 to 3 MW.
- As most, the Näsudden wind farm had 94 onshore plants installed, their installed capacity was 49.5 MW. The complete turnover to 2nd generation technology will almost halve the number of plants and also tripling the same area’s power production.
- Around 2,000 households on Gotland hold shares in wind turbines. Holdings were often initially in small, local cooperatives. In a single generation, they have transformed into holdings in major wind farms.
- Gotlands Energi AB, (GEAB), the local grid operator, has successfully integrated a large amount of locally produced wind power into the local power distribution grid. New, large wind farms will require a new grid.
- Smart Grids Gotland was a joint project between Vattenfall AB, ABB, GEAB and other, 2012–17. The project evaluated both customer's preparedness to adopt their electricity consumption to fluctuations followed by a high share of intermittent power supply and technological effects of a high share of wind power in a full scale but distinctly defined grid area.
- Wind power developers early expressed their interest in installing capacity up to 1,000 MW on Gotland 2014–2025 on Gotland. In total there would be around 3–400 turbines mainly concentrated to 15–16 larger wind farms. The planning process had started on many sites when it was interrupted by contradictive decisions either regarding the cable or the bird directive .
- A new sea cable being laid between Gotland and the mainland were planned to be put into operation around 2021. It would have made it possible to export large amounts of clean power to the rest of Sweden and beyond. From Gotland's point of view a new cable is necessary for extended exploitation of Gotland’s full wind power production capacity.