Insights from Almedalen 2023

Trying to gather some thoughts about Almedalen. For most it is associated with politicians, but it is actually a lot broader. Almost all industries and sectors have a alot of activiity during this week, and you really meet all kind of decision makers.

Future of commerce

One of the sessions I went to was about the future of commerce, focusing on unstaffed stores and automatic checkout adoption in stores.

The panel, consisting of both people from the big retailers in Sweden (Meta Persdotter at Coop) institutes such as HUI (Erik Bergh) and Svensk Handel (Henrik Ekelund) as well as Urban Höglund from Swish and Sofia Norén from Storekey, who enable solutions.

Some data shared during the talk:

  • In Sweden now more customers prefer self-checkout at stores to “traditional” checkout.
  • Reasons for prefering self-checkout vary however. One thing that was unexpected was that around 20% of young people prefer self-checkout as to not needing to show what they have bought to another person.
  • Un-staffed stores are becoming more common, but have some adoptation challenges. One is the feeling of security, as there is no staff present. This can be solved by either technology  (cameras) or by have the unmanned store close to other things where there are people (such as next to a restaurant or so)
  • New trends that would be tested soon where to make staff at a clothing retailer take payments directly using mobile phones, and not having any cash-register at all – instead just interactions on the floor between staff and customers.

Main take away is that e-commerce and “regular” commerce are really starting to blend in ways that make them indistinguishable. And is there actually any point in making a difference between them?

I have followed this field for a long time, ever since our coworker Robert started what is now Honestbox at Mindpark. We will see a lot more progress on this field I am sure!

Solar power discussions

Another session at Almedalen was about solar power and the energy transition. I do not have any direct business interests in this field (but we have some fun coworkers at Mindpark that work in this field). But I have a big personal interest in this, as some of you know.

There was, not unexpected, a lot of talk about sustainability at Almedalen (of the 2000 sessions about 500 contained the word “hållbarhet”!)

This one, about solar power, I found very interesting.

On stage where Axel Alm from Solkompaniet and Magnus Häggström from Helios Nordic Energy, representing the industry. But it was combined with both landowners (Tove Lönstad from LRF) and builders of “big boxes with lots of roof” (Matthias Kettelhoit from Logicenters). But also Peter Wigert from Svenska Kraftnät and Martin Sjödahl from Länsstyrelsen Kronobergs län. Both Svenska Kraftnät, who operate adn build the power lines and Länstyrelsen, who give permissin for building new power sources, are often seen as obstacles when it comes to enabling the energy transition.

Some interesting insights:

  • Solar power is viable in many parts of Sweden on a similar level as Denmark and northern Germany, some of the areas where the most is build in Europe.
  • In sweden it takes roughtly 1 years to get planning and approval going, and 1 year to build a solar power plant. That makes it the fastest form to build
  • Solar and wind have strong synergies – often when it is not windy, the sun i shining. Almost perfect correlation.
  • Energy storage is becoming more common, and 50% of solar plants build in germany now have solar storage as well.
  • The interest in building solar power plats in Sweden has grown a lot: Länsstyrelsen Kronobergs län hade during 2020 1 application, during 2021 one application a month, and now one application a week. And the applications are for bigger and bigger plants as well.
  • They have also now made cases of reversing former solar plats to fields again, and it showed that this is no problem at all, and the soil is even better after solar power cells are removed.

There are some bottlenecks however:

  • Permits still take longer then the industri feels they need to take
  • There is a legal issue with having a limit of 500 MWh, above that you need to pay taxes even if you consume the electricity yourself. This is a rule most European countries do not have, and would enable a lot of industri and logistics buildings to be covered with solar cells.
  • Connecting the solar plants to the grid takes time and planning, often on a regional level.

Svenska Kraftnät was also clear that there are obstacles: we can build a lot of solar power, but the national grid will not be able to cope with it all. Most of the energy consumption from solar power needs to be close to where it is generated. Currently they are paying about €1000 per MWh for somebody to increase demand when there is over-production, which larger amount of solar power will lead to.

Another insight I did not know: power lines are not deemed a “riksintresse”, which makes building new ones get harder, as it competes with a lot of other interests when it is about getting permits.

I truly believe solar power will be the main energy source in the future. It has too many advantages and will get only even cheaper. However it will take many years for the transition. But if the transition just continues at the current rate, a bit after 2040 the total global energy consumption would be met by solar power alone…. (I wrote about that recently: solar energy consumption trends globally)

The future if offices and work

Maybe not unexpected, but more the one session of Almedalen i was part of was about real-estate and especially the future of offices and work.

One panel, with Helene Lidström from Castellum, Paulina Brandberg, Jämställdhetsminister & bitr arbetsmarknadsminister, Peter Hellgren, CEO at Consid and Leif Denti, researcher in innovationspsykologi at Göteborgs universitet, focused a lot on remote work – a topic that is super relevant and where we with Mindpark see interesting development.

Insights from this topic was amongst other:

  • That most people in Sweden want flexibility for themselves, but at the same time they want that their collegues are at the office when they choose to be at the office as well…
  • There still seems no concesus on how remote work should actually be structured. So far it is only clear that there is no universal rule that works for everyone.
  • Many long term effects are still unclear, such as how gender equality at the workplace is affected by remote work.
  • Research clearly shows remote work improves people job satisfaction.

Peter Hellgren shared some specific insights from Consid as well, such as that they could measure that men aged 25-30 who were not in a relationship where a lot less happy with remote work compared to other groups. They could also now see a higher degree of participation (over 70%) compared to before the pandemic (around 64%) when it comes to social activities with colleagues.

Besides remote working, there where also a lot of discussion related to sustainability and real-estate. A thought that stuck with me was when one person, working as a sustainability manager at a big real estate company said it has been very challenging for her to go from being seen as on the good side, the side that is seen as the builder of the future for our society, to being on the bad side, the side that is responsible for a big part of Swedens carbon emissions.

And this is very true, and having talked to many sustainability managers in this sector it is clear: a person working with sustainabiltiy on real-estate has really had their roles transformed over the last decade, from social sustainability to much more focus on environmental sustainability.

In general within sustainability circularity was of big interest now, how to build with recycled material. But in discussions some interesting thought where raised as well: what if the houses being build and planned right now are the last houses being build? As it will be harder and harder to build new houses when emission targets need to be met…

Overall as always, lots of interesting perspectives and thoughts that emerge from sessions at Almedalen.

Trains and railways

Almedalen truly is so many different fields and industries at one place, which is one of the reasons it is relevant for many different people around Mindpark. One topic I myself find fascinating (and where I am involved a little as backer of All Aboard), is trains and railways.

There where many sessions on that at Almedalen, but one that I attended was about trans-european railway and challenges in going by train from Sweden to different destinations in Europe. Having recently been traveling from Venice to Helsingborg by train, I wanted to listen to what is in store for the future.

The panel, consisting of Jakop Dalunde, EU politician, Caroline Åstrand from MTR, Susanna Elfors (who founded the facebook group “tågsemester” with 170.000 members) and Mats Almgren from SJ. This was in the agenda 2030 arena, moderated by Mattias Goldmann.

Some insights:

  • Train are truly the most green travel solution for longer distances. 90% less emissions if you go by train in Sweden. Even in not so green countries, such as Poland, where a lot of energy is from coal, still 60% less emissions if you go by train.
  • It will get more expensive to fly in future, with new regulation and taxes. Probably 500 kr more for a flight within Europe.
  • Night trains are not really profitable for train operators at the moment.
  • The reason phone connectivity is bad on trains is because the windows are not “radio transparent”! New trains will have more transparent windows, which should make that better.
  • SJ is working on making it easier to book trains across countries.
  • Another insights: everything with train and infrastructure takes time. When someone working with trains says “this we already are solving”, they mean it is maybe done by 2024, but maybe first 2025 or 2026… (such as those radio transparent windows, or easier train booking even if that one actually might be done by fall 2023 already….)

A better booking experience is truly needed. This is why I am a backer of All Aboard, because they have built the technology to be able to have smooth booking system that covers almost all of Europe – which is what I believe will make it more accessible. They also have an interesting take, making it possible to find different routes, not just the quickest one – which is something you want to consider when going on holiday instead of traveling for work for example.

But the main insight is that there are many obstacles for making trains in Europe better. Most of them are national, as a lot of rules are set nationally, and small things such as traindrivers needing to be in the language of each country, computer systems for trains are set national, railway standards are set nationally etc. As Jakop put it: on of the best solutions here is actually to give more power to the EU, so that not every country makes their own decisions, which are not always informed about what decisions other countries are making at the moment….

World renewable energy consumption projection

A year ago, about the time when I together with some others started a sustainability event series at Mindpark, I got curious: are we moving fast enough when it comes to the energy transition?

I thought maybe it is possible to just get an overview of that, so  I googled for data. And data there was – the site had info listed on global energy consumptions, in a way that was useable to see how the trend has been going for the last 30+ years.

I thought: what happens if we just take the past trend, and project it into the future?

Said and done, and I did a post about it last year (in Swedish, but the graphs tell their own tale)

That post made me hopeful – if we just take the trend from 2015-2019 for all renewable energy sources, and project it into the future, we will have more renewable energy production 2037 then we have global energy consumption! And by 2038 we would produce a massive 60.000 TWh more then needed globally (an overproduction of over 25% of world energy consumption by then!).

That blogpost also made it clear: it is mainly two sources of renewable that make all the difference: wind and solar. Nuclear, hydropower and everything else makes really little difference, unless the speed of building them increases 10x or more, which is just not realistic.

This is also why overproduction is important in the long run, as that makes the challenge of solar and wind being intermittent much less of a problem.

How is it now in 2023?

However, I was not wondering, a bit over one year later – now there is more data available, and have the number for 2020 (2021, which is available now as well) been going as projected by this very simple model?

The answer is both better and worse.

A big challenge in doing these projections is to decide what years should be reference years for determining the yearly increase. Last post I used 2015-2019, 5 years. This is rather short time, but as this was before pandemic (and war in Europe) I felt they would be OK. Also, including a longer period would have made the increase bigger. So I opted for a “pessimistic” approach, and took just the last 5 years, as I assumed that as especially wind and solar matures, the rate of increase might be slower than at the earlier years.

If you want to see all energy sources and historic details, all the data is in a Google spreadsheet here.

What is worse?

Using that same approach for the data now, means the years 2017-2021 become reference years. This shows that the rate of increase have lowered for the two most important energy sources in this perspective: wind and solar. Wind was in the last blogpost I wrote growing at 14.5% yearly on average 2015-2019. Now on average 2017-2021 it has grown at 13.6%. So a decrease in speed.

For solar the numbers where 28.9% for 2015-2019, and it is for 2017-2021 25,4%, which is an even bigger decrease.

This affects the future trends, as solar and wind are the most important drivers. Making the same projecting with this data, moves the year when renewables is higher than world energy consumption back two years, to 2039 from 2037. Moving the goal back two years in an blogpost one year later, is of course a very bad sign (as it would say the goal is moving away further if this continues, with next year it being moved to 2041 maybe and so forth…)

What is better?

However, when looking at the numbers, the number are rather better than projected. This is because update their numbers, and the numbers where actually better in 2019 than what was initially reported last year by them. So my projections last year where that by 2021 wind power should be 4641 TWh, while the numbers released now show that it was 4872 TWh. For Solar it was however lower, my projections said 2979 by 2021, while the actual number was 2702 TWh.

When doing this for all renewables, my projections said all renewable energy sources by 2021 should be in total producing 27127 TWh. In the data released it is shown to have been 28161 TWh by 2021, so over 1000 TWh better. So the actual numbers are moving better than the projections.

Why are the numbers different?

I actually do not know why the historic data is different from And this makes all of the data in this post very uncertain – and highlight this is really just a very rough estimate and projections. This is not very scientific, and is basically done for myself as an interesting thought-experiment. But I thought might be interesting for more, and therefor I made this post and shared it.

And I am looking forward to seeing how the data, and projections, look next year!


Insights: the future of coworking in Sweden 2023

Spent a day in Östersund with people from different coworking spaces all over Sweden and abroad. Good talk and discussions about the future for coworking, how the market is changing right now and what trends we see. Interesting also with the European and global perspectives from Dimitar Inchev and Pauline Roussel – who started out in Berlin and then have visited over 250 different coworking spaces!

Some take aways: we see more kind of coworking emerge. This has already been going for a while, with some focusing on certain topics (such as E-commerce Park of Sweden in our case), and those that want to build a broader and more inclusive community (Mindpark in our case). However there is also the change happening where certain are focusing on flexibility, and others on community. This will probably continue – and for some it can be part of the same concept, but others might focus on only one of these. Definitly not all coworking will be community focused in the long run – or it might change name along the way.

Other trends are “coworking with anything”, ie a gym with coworking space, malls with a coworking space and hotels with coworking spaces. Some of these might stick, but having seen all of them myself, and knowing not all are around anymore, I am unsure if this is a lasting trend or not.

Another thing that I think is lasting however is a trend for rural and remote coworking. Here it is easy to build a great community, which makes it possible to have a space that lasts and endures. Coworking is since years no longer a big city phenomenon.

And one of the most important insights: in the future you as a worker will not have one office. You will have many offices. We are already at that point, but I not everyone has realized that yet. This already started before the pandemic, but was accelerated during it (as much else).

Perspektiv på Brexit

Av ren hobby har jag följd Brexit relativt nära, främst via Quora, som har många intressanta perspektiv från olika personer, både i Storbritannien och utanför. Vet att många lite har gett upp att förstå hur läget är, och varför. Vill man ha lite inblick, kan jag rekommendera läsa följande svar, som säger rätt mycket på lite olika sätt.

Om Storbritannien lämnar, kan de gå med i EU igen?
Can you realistically see the UK in the next five years activating Article 49 to re-enter the EU? How easy or difficult would it actually be in practice to ‘get back in’?

Ljög de som kampanjade för att lämna EU?
Was the entire Brexit campaign based on lies?

Att visa ser detta som Tyskland vs Storbritannien, och freden i Europa
Is it true that because of Brexit Germany has won the peace?

Är det EU som är hård och taskig?
Why are the EU making negotiating hard for Theresa May? Can any compromises be made?

Why does it seem like Britain is accepting ridiculous terms from Europe for Brexit? It seems like Europe is being very aggressive and Britain is simply laying down like an injured puppy. I may be wrong, but this is my perception of the issue.

Vad blir effekterna av en ”hård Brexit” om förhandlingarna in löses?
Do people realise the effect a hard Brexit could have on the UK economy?

Why is Westminster so afraid of a no deal Brexit, as if the UK has never existed without the EU?

Vad skulle man kunnat göra annorlunda?
If you were the Prime Minister of UK, what would you do about Brexit?

Vad tycker man i Europa om Brexit?
What do Europeans think of UK’s vote to postpone Brexit?

Och så klart, humor

How to stay healthy?

Being involved in Wellbefy has the advantage of being surrounded by people with a passion for health. Because of this, I have gotten plenty of recommendations for different books and reports. Currently I am reading (listening in one case) two to books on health this winter. First one is Hjärnstark by the psychologist Anders Hansen about the mental benefits of exercise, and how the body can handle stress better if we stress it by exercise. Very healthy to hear and understand better the physiological effects of moving. Second is Der Ernährungs Kompass by Bas Kast, the Science Editor at Tagesspiegel, who set out to really understand how what we eat affects our bodies – and went for a couple of years almost thru all diets and studies regarding food that he could find! A really impressive and nuanced book about how food can by used to loose weight, live healthier and live longer.

Interesting conlcusions so far (not thru them yet)

  • 20 minutes of exercise, preferably running, makes wonders for you mental and hearts health. Everyone should do this, especially if you dont have them time, then is when you need it the most.
  • Eating a pescetarian diet (vegetarian + fish) is probably the best food for our body in the long run. Vegan is also very good. And depends on what fish, as some fish are bad, so not all fish is equal.
  • Fasting or not eating occasionally has most likely a very good effects on the long term health, and can prolong lifespan.

I have myself been running (but not every week, unfortunately) and doing lighter exercise weekly, and follow already a pescetarian diet (but have tried to go to vegetarian + mussels as basic, but eat fish (sushi) every now and then). I will continue with this during 2019, but also make sure to exhaust my body physically at least once a week, and at least 5 days of fasting during the year (not sure if in a row or separate days, any recommendations are highly appreciated)

How to live a happy life

Mountain View

This twitter thread i an interesting reflection that hits me, as it is what I also think is important in life – that we have a choice of living here and now, or reflecting about it. And we cannot do both at the same time. We have a choice of living in the present, and living in the thoughts of future or the past. You cannot be happy in both of them, as they are, paradoxically, destroying each-other.

9 unexpected rules for an awesome life from TEDxYouth @ Helsingborg

Earlier this year I was asked to give a TED Talk during the TEDxYouth. An event held in Helsingborg, at Dunkers Kulturhus. I wanted to find a theme that I thought could help the audience, both young- and old adults, to find inspiration in life. So I sat down, and looked thru notes I had taken over all the years, about small insights and details that I realised are important. Some things are self-tought, others have come to my realisation thru books or long discussions with smart people.

I boiled it all down to: 9 rules for an awesome life. Watch below (but please endure the first minute of not-so-good introduction, it gets better)

Loved doing the talk, and got nice and very positive respons. Made me, and still makes me, happy.

A different view on management and life

With those that have had discussion about management, I often say that I recommend reading “The Seven-day weekend”, a book about a Brazilian company that is radically democraticed. When I read that book, I went “wow, this is exactly what I have thought about running a business”. I have however not had the guts to push it all the way, but I still believe it is the right path. Now I saw that the author has done a TED talk, and just watched it. I recommend it, if you want an alternative look at how to live life, and run a company. It is not all gold. But I think it is a very interesting approach. I wish I could be more extreme myself in this.

And I just love a quote like this:

“If you are giving back, you took too much”