Thanks to an intensive educational and information campaign by Vattenfall and others, the Swedish countryside was electrified. But it was local distribution associations who took financial responsibility for the development.
During the 1920s, electricity was mainly used for threshing, and at that time it was felt that agriculture would be rationalised out in the fields through electrification. Actually, it turned out to be the stationary electric motor that had an impact in the countryside.
Rural electrification was taking place in several parts of Europe and the USA at the same time. And exactly the same issues were being wrestled with. Experiments with different types of soil cultivation machines, such as the electric plough, were being undertaken in several countries. With little success.
Vattenfall, in partnership with Elektroindustriföreningen (the Electro-Industry Association), insurance companies and agricultural societies, also set up a demonstration farm as part of the 'Art Industry' Exhibition in Stockholm in 1930. It was a huge success, with over 100,000 visitors. This farm was replicated as more permanent demonstration farms in Gäddebäck outside Trollhättan and Malmvik on Lovön outside Stockholm.Vattenfall continued its involvement in the experimental activities. Among other things, Jordbrukens Elektrotekniska Forskningsinstitution (Agricultural Electro-technical Research Institute) was formed together with Jordbrukstekniska föreningen (Agricultural Engineering Association). Another approach to spreading information was Vattenfall's propaganda bus – adopting an American approach. The bus was a mobile exhibition that visited over 70 locations every year during the summer months. For 25 years, FERA published the magazine Jordbrukarnas elektriska blad, to which Vattenfall frequently contributed.Between 1915 and 1920 the proportion of the country's arable land belonging to farms with electricity increased from 5 to almost 40 per cent. During the interwar years, rural consumption of electricity tripled, and by 1938 around 65 per cent of rural households had been electrified. At that time, Sweden was still largely an agricultural country. Of the country's 5.3 million inhabitants, almost 4 million lived in the countryside. Twenty years later, only 2 million of 5.5 million Swedes lived in rural areas.
Following the Second World War, another wave of rural electrification commenced, and by the mid-1960s, the electrification of Sweden was complete. Electrification, and urbanisation, also affected the number of distribution associations. In 1943 there were 3.500 associations in Sweden, with the number gradually falling. However, there are still a few viable electricity associations left in the countryside. These have been joined in recent years by new cooperatives working towards expansion of broadband.