Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy



In 2016, the government together with several other political parties agreed on a long-term bipartisan energy policy for Sweden. The agreement includes a target of 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2040 and no net emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 2045. Furthermore, a new Climate Act was introduced in 2018, which states that each government has an obligation to pursue a climate policy based on the climate goals adopted by the Riksdag. In the beginning of 2020, the government additionally published Sweden’s integrated national energy and climate plan[1], which presents how Sweden contributes to reaching the European Union’s goals in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030.
In 2015, the Ministry of Enterprises, Energy and Communications enacted a national maritime strategy[2] which identifies areas where action is needed to promote a sustainable development in the Swedish maritime sector. Ocean energy is one of many areas included. However, there is no national energy policy specifically for ocean energy.
In December 2019 Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management submitted the Swedish marine spatial plan proposals to the Swedish government. The government will decide on the plans by March 2021 the latest. Marine spatial planning will form the basis for governmental agency and municipal decisions regarding the most appropriate usage of a marine area, taking into account the character and location of the area and the existing needs. No specific area has been designated for ocean energy usage to date.

The long-term Swedish energy policy relies on economic policy instruments, including a carbon tax, international emissions trading and a renewable electricity certificate system. These instruments provide incentives for renewable energy while remaining technology neutral. There are no instruments in place to specifically incentivise ocean energy deployment.

Swedish governmental agencies support academic and private sector R&D at various stages of technology maturity. Funding providers include:
  • Swedish Energy Agency (SEA,, which is responsible for facilitating a sustainable energy system in Sweden. To this end the agency funds relevant research, business and technology development and technology demonstration.
  • Swedish Research Council (VR,, which is tasked with funding fundamental research and research infrastructure for a wide range of topics.
  • Swedish Innovation Agency (VINNOVA, which supports business and technology development through funding.
In addition, regional authorities may also grant funding.
In 2018, the second phase of the Swedish Energy Agency´s national ocean energy program was started. The activities and priorities of the program are formulated in the Swedish Energy Agency’s strategy for ocean energy, which was finalised in 2017[1]. The programme ends in 2024 and has a total budget of around 10,2 MEuro. Since 2018 there has been a research call each year, resulting in a total number of 21 funded projects. The programme supports research, experimental development and demonstration of technical solutions within the following focus areas:
  • Improved knowledge regarding environmental impact during installation, operation and decommissioning
  • Improved reliability and durability
  • Development of systems, subsystems and components for cost-effective conversion of marine energy
  • Tests and demonstration of systems in marine environments
  • Improved installation, operation and maintenance strategies 
The Swedish Energy Agency is also involved in OCEANERA-Net Cofund, which is a collaboration between national/regional funding organisations and the EU to support the ocean energy sector and fund transnational projects.


Consenting processes

New Swedish legislation on Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is in force from 1 September 2014.

The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management is preparing the forthcoming national marine spatial plans.

There are no pre-selected areas for oceans energy. Instead, there are national interest areas for offshore wind. Within areas of national interest, it is not allowed to undertake activities that can seriously harm the designated values or undertake activities that significantly complicate the intended use of the area.

Permits according to the environmental code are granted by the Environmental Courts with the input from the County Administrative Boards. Ocean energy projects may also need consent regarding the continental shelf act. These applications are handled by County Administrative Board.

The local County Administrative Board should be contacted and informed in the beginning of the process.

A consultation will then be held between the County Administrative Board, the municipality environmental service committee and the person applying for permit.

At the consultation there will be discussions about the planned activity, environmental impact and the future process. After that a consultation will be held with others particularly affected by the plans. If the plans. If the plans are likely to have a significant environmental impact it is mandatory to have a bigger consultation with other authorities. The next step for the applicant is to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and send together with the application to Environmental Court (this should be made within one year after the consultation or a new consultation might be needed). The Environmental Court will then decide if permit is given (supplementary information might be required before). A granted permit is in turn associated with conditions that must be met by the applicant. It is also possible that the Environmental Court determines different compensation measures like a fish fee.

Whether it is clear or not to applicants what permits are required, in what order and what information must be supplied at what time, depends on the applicant’s experience of earlier consenting process.

There is no specific authority that manages the whole ocean energy consenting process (“one stop shop” facility or entity). Instead there are several authorities involved and they also manage other consenting processes.

Currently an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is always required.

However, the level of detail and scope of necessary investigations naturally varies depending on the character of the project. This legislation is currently under review and it is possible it will be altered. Permits usually contain conditions regarding monitoring the environmental effects of the project.

The consenting process for ocean energy is regulated by the environmental legislation in the environmental code (milj?balken).

The environmental code is a framework legislation which contains certain special rules applicable to water-related activities. These provisions are however applicable not only to ocean energy but to dams, building bridges, traditional hydropower, etc. There are no special rules applicable only to ocean energy.

No legislation and regulation have been adapted to better suit ocean energy so far. Swedish water-law is currently being reviewed and it has been suggested that more water-related activities are made subject only to notification and not a full permit-process. However nothing has yet been decided.

A consultation is done early in the process. It is the applicant the entity responsible for its implementation and that it follows all rules.

In the first consultation with the authorities there will be discussions about the planned activity, environmental impact and the future process. In the next consultation others particularly affected by the plans will receive a written invitation. General organizations and public are invited through an ad in the newspaper. Discussions will be about the location, scale, design and environmental impact of the activity all well as content of the EIA. In case of a bigger consultation, the identified parties will receive a written invitation.

Statutory consultation is required with the County Administrative Board, municipality environment steering committee and others particularly affected by the plans. Of the plans are likely to have a significant environmental impact it is mandatory to have a bigger consultation.

Information of the process is available on the homepages of the County Administrative Boards. The Swedish Energy Agency has also developed a website together with other government authorities which explains the consenting process for wind power plants, including offshore plants (only in Swedish). This site also includes web map service integrated with e-service for consenting applications.

In both testing sites in Sweden, Lysekil wave power research site and Söderfors marine currents research site, there is no specific consenting process.

The OES is organised under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) but is functionally and legally autonomous. Views, findings and publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.