Sweden’s electric vehicle market is booming, with sales on track to exceed 18.24 percent in the coming years. However, the growth of charging infrastructure has not kept up with the high demand, posing a challenge to the country’s ambitious climate goals.

Meeting this ambitious goal, however, requires the development of the necessary infrastructure to support this transition. Stakeholders must ensure that charging stations are widely accessible to provide electric vehicle drivers a seamless and convenient experience.

For example, the European Union’s recent decision to ban the sale of new cars and light trucks with internal combustion engines from 2035 is a bold step towards reducing emissions and achieving climate objectives.

The UnSustainability Report from Deloitte and Geelmuyden Kiese (GK) outlines ten concrete factors slowing the green transition in Sweden. It mentions the potential obstacles to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles in Sweden, much of it is related to the infrastructure.

The report also includes a study from the environmental think tank Transport & Environment, which revealed that Sweden ranks at the bottom among European countries regarding the number of charging points — with just over 17,000 charging points and approximately 3,000 public charging stations.

Roadblocks ahead

Mobility Sweden CEO Mattias Bergman has attributed the slow progress in developing charging infrastructure in Sweden to both existing regulations and delays in the process for energy companies to report on their power capacity.

This has resulted in an average construction time of around 14 months for charging points in cities and up to three years in rural areas. These delays make it difficult for the government to allocate funding effectively and result in issues with permit approval, with funding potentially expiring before construction can begin.

Bergman is therefore advocating for improved coordination, standardized building permits and clear impact maps to reduce the lead times for constructing charging stations. He maintains that addressing these issues is crucial for the transition towards a fossil-free vehicle fleet to continue in the right direction.

Government initiatives

While Sweden’s charging infrastructure needs to be ramped up to keep up with the electric vehicles demand, the government is taking initiatives to meet the goal.

The government is preparing to convert a section of the “E-20” highway into the first highway capable of wirelessly charging the batteries of heavy cargo vehicles. This will extend beyond the small experimental section and enable more efficient charging on the go.

The E-20 highway links the cities of Hallsberg and Örebro, connecting the country’s three major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. The extended section of the highway, which will be 21 kilometers long, is set to begin construction in 2025.

In order to produce more electricity and improve energy security, the government is also working on a bill to build more nuclear power stations.

The proposed bill, which is yet to be approved by parliament, would enable the establishment of new nuclear reactors at different sites within Sweden. The implementation is likely to start by March of next year.

If passed, the new law would remove the current limit of ten nuclear reactors and permit the construction of reactors in new locations, allowing the use of smaller, more cost-effective nuclear reactors.

The EU has also proposed modifications to its electricity market in response to almost two years of high energy bills in Europe. One of the main factors contributing to these high prices is the price differences resulting from weather and energy producer availability.

The market currently operates on a “merit order” system, where the cheapest energy producers are selected, but the most expensive one sets the price, resulting in higher power prices. By implementing changes to the electricity market, the EU hopes to alleviate the burden of high energy costs for consumers and reduce the impact of fossil fuel prices on electricity production.

While the government is taking initiatives like the wireless charging highway and building more nuclear power stations, there is a need for more coordination and standardized building permits to ensure timely construction of charging stations.

These delays make it difficult for the government to meet the high demand for charging infrastructure and could potentially hinder the transition towards a fossil-free vehicle fleet. Therefore, addressing these issues is crucial for the successful transition towards sustainable transportation in Sweden.