With innovations like electric roads and zero-energy housing complexes, Sweden is usually thought of as a country at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. But when the government introduced a solar tax earlier in 2016, critics warned said the country was taking a huge step in the wrong direction. Now the government has announced plans to slash the controversial tax.
The disputed solar tax would not necessarily have hurt families with solar panels on their home roofs, but rather companies with large arrays. The tax targeted solar energy production greater than 255 kilowatts (kW). But according to Reuters, the government opposition and environmental experts disapproved of the tax, and the government is now backpedaling on the move.
The tax can’t be completely eliminated for technical reasons, according to Reuters, but in 2017 the Swedish government will reduce the tax by 98 percent. According to Swedish publication Dina Pengar, the tax will be reduced from 29.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 0.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and facilities generating under 255 kW will be exempt.
In a statement, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said, “This allows for rapid investments (in solar energy), while our long-term ambition is to completely remove the tax on solar electricity.” The government had said they originally introduced the tax to meet European Union standards, but the European Commission later said that wasn’t accurate.
According to Sweden’s official website, total installed solar capacity in the country in 2015 was 79.4 megawatts. In late October, an official said the country would likely be able to generate all its energy by 2040 with renewable sources. Just last year, Sweden was able to obtain 57 percent of their energy from renewables, including wind and hydropower.