October 6, 2022

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There's a big elephant in the room in Arendal: New Wild Wind Energy

There’s a big elephant in the room in Arendal: New Wild Wind Energy

The main theme during Arendal Week each year is climate and the green transition. Alle discusses how important a green transition is for Norway’s future. It’s about securing jobs and creating value, not least how Norway will meet its climate commitments.

In Arendal, there is broad agreement that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced. In panel discussions, there is consensus that going green does not mean less employment and less welfare. It is said that we have the opportunity to create new green industries. It’s all true. But what is rarely said is that if we are to realize these ambitions, we need more power. More power.

Ståle Gjersvold

Ståle Gjersvold (Photo: Åge Hojem / Trønderenergi)

The power has to come from somewhere. We don’t have today.

Where he’s coming from is the big elephant in the room – and on the streets of Arendal this week.

Within four years, southern Norway will experience an energy deficit, according to Statnett. Overall, today’s energy surplus is expected to drop from 15 TWh to nearly three TWh.

Going forward, energy consumption is also expected to increase sharply if we are to succeed in creating new green jobs, while at the same time reducing oil and gas production. The NHO and LO, in their Industrial Policy Programme, estimate that this provision should provide for Norway’s energy consumption between 170 and 190 TWh in 2030. By comparison, Norway’s energy production was 157 TWh last year.

An important reason we run into a power shortfall faster than most people hope is that authorities include lower ground winds in the calculations. At the same time, there is practically a freeze on new licenses for wind energy development until 2030.

We can cover parts of the growing energy demand through energy efficiency in buildings. NVE indicates a profitable potential of up to 13 TWh. However, it is hard to imagine that this full potential has been developed in seven years.

Many are highlighting offshore wind as part of the solution to the growing energy deficit. That may be true – in a few years. The problem is that it is not profitable until eight to ten years at the earliest. Ongoing development projects require state support, and prospects for profitability are put on hold when it is uncertain whether offshore winds will link up with the continent.

Moreover, offshore wind cannot be built fast enough to be a solution until 2030. Some points point to nuclear power as a solution, but the resistance in Norway is enormous. The costs are very high and the time horizon is very long.

So what can we do?

A profitable and quickly implemented measure is the development of land-based wind energy. It will contribute to lowering electricity prices, which means improving the finances of most people. The industry obtains reasonable strength that ensures employment and value creation, and gives strength to new industrial establishments. The development of land winds is the clear key for Norway to succeed in its green transition.

There is broad professional agreement that alternatives are more expensive and/or time consuming to develop.

More terrestrial wind is the big elephant standing in the middle of the room, and in the middle of the streets of Arendal, but few want to talk about it.

Dealing with this elephant in the room is the responsibility of the management. Choosing to ignore the obvious is to avoid the core of the problem.

Wild Winds have been controversial, but the administration is also addressing what is unpopular. At the same time, you cannot implement changes without having people with you. An understanding of the need for change must be created, and then the changes implemented in cooperation with those affected.

I think it’s entirely possible to achieve onshore wind development with less conflict than we’ve seen in recent years. It requires us to pay more attention to natural values ​​and to indigenous and local people. At the same time, more value creation should remain in the municipality. We must learn from what we have been through.

At the same time, our senior politicians must take responsibility for communicating how important it is to develop more onshore winds for Norway. People are wise, they listen to good arguments, but when they see politicians making a drastic change in the face of opposition, they might think that the politicians weren’t entirely convinced of their policies after all.

Credibility can only be built by being honest with yourself. Often the hardest thing is not knowing what is right, but doing it. This is true no more than in climate policy.

There is broad professional agreement that alternatives are more expensive and/or time consuming to develop


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