Almost a third of all hydropower produced in Sweden comes from Jämtland. On the day this article was written alone, Sweden consumed 10,721 Megawatts of electricity from hydropower, and in Jämtland we produced 2,904 Megawatts the same day. For those of us who live in the Power Region, hydropower is a natural part of our everyday life, and conditions for hydropower here are excellent.
With our cold winters, abundant snow, and vast mountain areas, we have access to a great deal of water. Reserves of snow form naturally in mountain areas, and for many years we have been constructing reservoirs that serve hydroelectric power plants. We use water to generate power, which is then conveyed further, so that the water can be reused at other plants on its way to the coast.
The great advantage with hydropower is that we reuse precipitation repeatedly. Moreover, hydropower is part of a circulating system where water evaporates, turns into water vapour, and eventually returns in the form of rain or snow. And there are no problems with storage, as we are able to create electricity from hydropower precisely when we need it. We are talking 100 per cent renewable – several times over.
No new hydroelectric power stations are being built today, but, on the other hand, old plants are being upgraded all the time. Modern materials and new computer projections enable a hydroelectric power plant to improve its efficiency when it is restored. With greater efficiency, there is enough water to both produce more electricity and take the natural assets adjacent to the power plant into consideration. For example, some of the water in the River Billsta is used to direct stray fish away from the plant, while electricity is generated by the plant itself.
For electricity-intensive industry, hydropower is a source that is easy to forecast. Energy is produced in several locations, and is not dependent on one single large facility. Secure supplies mean that, if a power station shuts down, this will have no effect on the industry at all. At Midskog, where we are proposing a large site, is Sweden’s biggest outside switchgear, in terms of the number of cables. Even if a cable were to fail, electricity would still be supplied to our customers in the region. We always have electricity. In southern Sweden there is a deficit, but in the North we have a surplus of electricity on an annual basis. This means that the electricity supply here is very reliable, and also cheaper than in southern Sweden.
At Jämtkraft they are carrying out a great deal of research to improve the quality of electricity for the electricity-intensive industries. The aim is safer and cheaper electricity. Among other things, the electricity network’s frequency is stabilised by hydropower plants that are being converted to hybrid power stations with batteries, to better manage small and fast openings and closures of the turbines. The need has arisen when the proportion of wind power in the electricity network has increased and directs the need for a frequency maintenance service to 50 Hertz. The next stage is to supplement the batteries with fuel cells which run on green hydrogen gas, which means that the batteries have a longer life to combine these techniques. Environmental work that is in progress right now, and which also stabilises the water levels, which otherwise rise and fall rapidly, and hence impact on the environment around the reservoir and outflow.