(2) Norway - 99% Hydropower Norway is blessed with abundant water resources, due to its mountainous topography and the distribution of flowing water and innumerable waterfalls across the entire country. Almost 99% of all power production in Norway comes from hydropower. This makes Norway the world’s sixth biggest producer of hydropower and the largest producer in Europe. Norway has utilized approximately 60 per cent of its accessible hydropower potential, and the installed capacity is around 28 300 MW. Norwegian hydropower companies have a long tradition and a lot of experience in the development and construction of hydropower projects. The hydropower industry has developed competence that covers all aspects of a hydropower project, and the authorities have developed expertise in regulating and administering hydropower resources. Norway has a strong supplier industry that delivers goods and services to hydropower construction both on an international level and in Norway. What are the main advantages of hydropower as a source of electrical energy? • It is a renewable energy source and its contributions to air pollution, acid precipitation and greenhouse gas emissions are minimal. • If a hydropower plant has a storage reservoir, this is regarded to be a flexible and reliable source of energy. It is simple to control production, and to adjust the production according to demand. This also makes the hydropower suitable to combine with other energy sources, for example wind power. When there is little wind and the wind power plants are not producing enough, electricity generated from hydropower can easily be phased into the supply system. When there is a lot of wind, water can be held back and stored, and the hydropower production will be reduced. • It is a mature technology with a long working life, high efficiency, and low operation and maintenance costs.
(3) Renewables potential and obstacles in Norway The biggest potential concerning renewable energy production in Norway is wind power. The potential is great both for land-based and offshore wind energy, and big Norwegian power companies like Statkraft are currently applying for licences for the construction of both types of wind farms. One expects that in the long-term, most developments will take place offshore – where there are good wind resources, a lot of space, and where Norway can use its experience and expertise from offshore oil drilling. The obstacles that hinder a higher degree of the use wind power now or in the future are: • Economy I: Wind power is in most cases dependent on public subsidies in order to be profitable. A good support scheme is missing in Norway. • Economy II: Money for innovation and R&D • Environmental impact: the visual effects of wind mills, the fact that they throw moving shadows and produce noise, impact on wildlife (this is however likely to be low compared to other forms of human and industrial activity). NIMBY-argumentation. Some environmental NGOs are against wind power. • Expensive grid connection (wind mills are often in remote areas) When it comes to offshore wind-power, however, the advantages are easier to spot: It’s free of emissions, hardly comes into contact with birdlife, can be placed outside fishing grounds and shipping lanes, and will be out of sight of the population. But, the technical challenges are enormous, and the development and construction of offshore wind power is still very expensive.
Sources: www.statkraft.com www.renewableenergy.no