October 3, 2022

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Nostalgia does not solve the energy and climate crisis

Nostalgia does not solve the energy and climate crisis

  • Ole Eric El Maled

    Managing Director, NHO

Norway should build more renewable energy faster, both at sea and on land, make better use of hydropower and get more solar energy, Ole Eric Elmeled writes. The photo shows Industry Minister Jean-Christian Vestri (AP), Finance Minister Trygiv Slagsvold-Widom (SP), Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (AP) and Minister of Oil and Energy Terry Asland (AP) during a press conference on offshore wind.

The solution is to look forward – toward more renewable energy, more energy efficiency, enhanced power grids, and more energy exchange.

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Europe’s energy crisis shows that the energy and climate transition will not go smoothly until the goal is reached. It will be a bumpy ride.

But the solution is not to look in the rearview mirror.

High electricity prices hurt both individuals and businesses. The search for solutions should not prevent us from thinking wisely and in the long term.

Instead of capping the price, halting electricity exports, reversing the energy law, and curbing climate and industrial investments – as many are now suggesting – we should start building more renewable energy.

The power we already have must be used more effectively. The power grid must be strengthened. In order to overcome the problem, individuals and companies must be helped through the support of force.

We do all this better as part of the international community, as an integral part of Europe.

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Electricity prices can never be imagined

Since early summer 2021, Russia has gradually reduced gas supplies to Europe to near zero. The EU is responding by making quick plans for a future without Russian gas.

At the same time, droughts and heat waves reduced hydroelectric and nuclear power production in many European countries.

Countries such as Germany and Great Britain have over time phased out much of their previous production of coal and nuclear power and replaced it with gas, wind and solar power.

The sum of this has given us electricity prices in Europe that we would never have imagined. And the gas supply from Norway to Europe has never been more important.

The need to build more renewable energy faster

The crisis we are going through is a good example of what the energy transition can look like. Coal, oil and gas must eventually be replaced by renewable and emission-free energy. And it should happen at a much higher rate than we’ve seen so far.

So some politicians’ criticism of EU and German energy policy seems easy and cynical.

The phasing out of coal power is right and necessary and has been Norway’s position for a long time. So one could wish that the development of renewables had advanced further, but here we can start sweeping on our doorstep.

Norway should develop more renewable energy faster, both at sea and on land, make better use of hydropower and get more solar energy.

The importance of power exchange

The energy crisis we are facing now, with the acute shortage of gas in Europe, is not the time to assess or pass judgment on the importance of energy and cable exchange for foreign countries.

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Without a war in Europe, it is very likely that electricity prices in Norway will be at the normal level. And then the following will still hold true: With the increase of renewable and unregulated energy in Europe and the lack of thermally regulated energy from gas and coal, the need for energy exchange within and between countries increases.

This is also not the time to make quick changes to energy law and the energy market. Differences in electricity prices were significant prior to 1990, both between provinces and within provinces. There was excess capacity in the system, a lot of water flowed through the tanks, and the excess power was sold cheaply to Sweden and Denmark.

This is not a system we want to return to. The energy market is here to stay.

The solution to the energy crisis lies not in dreaming of old solutions, but in looking forward to new ones. Towards more renewable energy, more energy efficiency, enhanced power grids, and more energy exchange.