Our society could not function without electricity, and the national grid is necessary for the electrical system to work. The grid affects the environment in different ways. We always strive to ensure that the negative impacts are as small as possible, and that the positive effects are as large as possible.
Negative impact involves such things as land being claimed when new lines are built, and the risk of discharges of pollutants from the facilities. An example of positive impact is when the plant and animal life benefit from having the ground beneath a power line being cleared of trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Svenska kraftnät must also ensure that the national grid contributes with positive effects in Sweden's efforts to achieve the goals of energy and climate policy.
New power lines help to meet climate targets
The EU has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy consumption and increase the share of renewable energy, meaning electricity from non-fossil sources. Svenska kraftnät contributes in meeting the climate and energy targets by extending the national grid so that renewable electricity sources, such as new large wind farms, can be connected to it. We are taking steps to reduce energy losses on the grid and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we carry out and support research in green technology.
Environmental issues are important when building new lines
When we plan to build a new power line, we need to take into account many different factors, including how the new line might affect the environment. In order to find the best possible solution, we investigate the impact the new line is likely to have on the natural and cultural environment, agricultural land and landscape. Other issues investigated include exposure to electromagnetic fields and sound levels. We report the results in a so-called environmental impact assessment and consult with the authorities and local residents about the location and design.
When it is time to build a line, we place environmental demands on the contractors we use to build new lines. Among other things, the contractors must take into account environmental and ground conditions and must not emit pollutants into the environment.
We take environmental concerns into account when we maintain the grid
Grid lines and stations need to be maintained so that they continue to work and be reliable. Maintenance work may negatively affect the environment. For example, emissions from machinery and vehicles can occur, and there is a risk that sensitive soils and vegetation may be damaged. This is why we set environmental requirements for the contractors carrying out maintenance work on our behalf.
Rare plant and animal species thrive under power lines
Many plant and animal species that thrived in the old agricultural landscape are threatened today. The habitats of these species have declined dramatically during the 1900s, as fewer soils are kept open by grazing and mowing. Line corridors, which for safety reasons are kept clear of trees and tall shrubs, are regularly maintained. This maintenance nearly corresponds to the work that the farmer did in the meadow.
If the soil is poor in nutrients and additionally perhaps chalky, then the conditions are favorable for a rich variety of species along the line corridors. Since power line corridors cross almost all habitats, meadow flowers have been able to spread along them. Therefore, one can now find rare species in line corridors.
We work to protect and promote these species. We do this for example by obtaining knowledge of what species exist in the line corridors and making sure to protect them when we maintain the grid.
The photo was taken during one of our inventories of the plant and animal species found in the line corridors. Photographer: Eva Grusell