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By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
STOCKHOLM, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Sweden aims to scrap subsidies for onshore wind farm projects at around the same time as Norway, which will halt its programme at the end of 2021, Swedish Energy Minister Anders Ygeman said on Wednesday.
Onshore wind farms are already profitable without subsidies, the minister told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference, adding he will seek to spur investment by expanding an existing framework that pinpoints relevant acreage for development.
The current Swedish-Norwegian subsidy programme, which secures 15 years of support for any new projects, helped place the two countries among Europe's fastest growing offshore wind developers in recent years.
"It makes sense to (end) it together with the Norwegians. We have good faith that we will be able to have more or less the same timetable ... Because the system is not relevant any more," the minister said.
Sweden has an existing framework that maps the best wind conditions in the country but several of its proposed wind projects, both onshore and offshore, have been turned down due to military or environmental concerns.
"We might do more in that field. To pinpoint where we have the best possibilities for wind. And in those areas wind (developments) should weigh a bit heavier, in other areas a bit less... I am open to do more on that," said Ygeman.
The minister said Sweden aimed to see more offshore wind farm projects built in coming years and plans to cut the cost of connecting such projects to electricity distribution grids.
Funding for grid links could come from the state budget or through investments via state-owned grid operator Svenska Kraftnat, among other options, he added.
Despite Sweden's offshore wind ambitions, its armed forces recently rejected a major 300-megawatt project that Vattenfall was planning together with Wallenstam. Vattenfall has also said it would shrink planned grid investments due to a state proposal to reduce network profits. (Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, editing by Terje Solsvik and David Evans)