Energy is the invisible elephant in the room of modern civilisation, and this is reflected in the stories of the other sectors explored in this exhibition. But the energy elephant has also made itself at home in our domestic spaces, powering our devices and appliances, and keeping our houses warm.

Electricity generation in Sweden was largely free of fossil fuels before the end of the 20th Century – but through the use of nuclear power and large hydroelectric installations. The rise of renewables such as wind and solar power in the early 21st Century offered an escape from reliance on these sources. But the re-localisation of energy generation was not without its critics and opponents, leading to waves of protest and long social struggles between different regions and classes.

Domestic warmth had largely been provided by district heating systems from the late 20th Century, though these were at first heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels and waste. A shift to biofuels, and then on to low-temperature systems based on renewable sources and “waste” heat from industry, was enabled by changes to how homes were built, furnished and lived in, replacing the old ways on display in this exhibition.

by Paul Raven