Sweden aims to become 1st oil-free economy

March 21, 2006 at 8:17 AM
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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 21 (UPI) -- By 2020, Sweden aims to become the world's first oil-free economy.

A plan to this effect was outlined by s Development Minister Monika Sahlin, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

A commission made up of scientists, industry leaders, carmakers and farmers will present suggestions for a road map to Sweden's parliament, Sahlin said.

The hearing is likely to take place before Sweden's parliamentary elections in October, following which a change in government is expected.

The plan is Sweden's reaction to rising gasoline prices and shrinking oil reserves, Sahlin said.

Roughly 30 percent of Swedish energy is generated from oil. Ninety-six percent of the country's electricity demand is generated by water and nuclear energy. The rest comes from fossil fuels.

Phasing out nuclear energy has been a constant source of political debate. The initial plan to shut down all Swedish reactors by 2010 has been postponed by 25 to 35 years.

The Swedish government has failed to push alternative energy sources within the automobile sector -- cars running on natural gas are virtually unheard of in the country.

Sahlin hopes domestic car makers Volvo and Saab will introduce bio gas engines to help push the plan to become an oil-free country.

A Scandinavian country slightly larger than California, Sweden has some 9 million citizens.

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