Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland (Ap) gave a clear message when he recently introduced electricity subsidies to business: Norway needs more renewable energy. It’s time to develop wind power on Earth again. We have to tolerate “some interference” in nature. And this time they want Norwegian municipalities in the team. A number of controversial wind energy projects, such as the Fosen development, and massive public opposition, led the Solberg government to halt all license processing for onshore wind power in 2019.
The government should not repeat the mistakes of Solberg’s government. If onshore wind energy operations are to resume, as Aasland clearly wants, it must do so in an entirely new way, within new frameworks. There should be new standards and new licensing rounds, where attention to important natural areas is most important. They should stay away from natural areas where they are not even allowed to build cabins, warns Trols Julusen, leader of the Nature Conservancy.
Wind energy should be developed on Earth with as little interference with nature as possible. You should conserve areas with the most vulnerable nature, such as places where there are a large number of red-listed animal species, or Sami interests in reindeer herding areas, says Astrid Hoym, leader of the AUF youth organization.
Completely different respect
The head of the Nature Conservancy believes that new investment in onshore wind power should be done in an entirely new way, not as he thinks it has been done under Solberg’s government.
– It allowed the development of wind energy primarily in natural areas. Wind turbines are a major intervention in nature. The Norwegian people reacted against it. It was right for Solberg to halt wind energy development on Earth, Gulowsen tells Dagsavisen.
The government has long indicated that it wants to invest in onshore wind energy again. What matters to us is that it will be a completely new process. They should put in place a system of privilege that takes care of nature in a completely different and kinder way than before. Wind energy companies themselves have said that there will now be a completely different kind of wind energy development. We haven’t seen this in practice, so it might be interesting to see. But what’s absolutely certain is that, for our part, we think it’s totally out of the question to resume the kind of wind energy development with the kind of process that created all the problems through 2019, which are based on old concessions, Julesen believes.
Our call to the government and energy companies, if you are serious about wanting to develop wind energy in a respectful and environmentally friendly way, then withdraw old concessions, get rid of problem projects and start over. Because they can’t just start a new Solberg project. They should start a nice new venture in Aasland, with a very different respect for nature and the environmental consequences.
Not only extreme winds
Gulowsen acknowledges that there are plenty of good, strong winds blowing over the mountaintops and along the Norwegian coast. But he still believes that the government should ensure that wind turbines are kept away from important natural areas, and not only follow extreme wind conditions.
– What distinguishes Norway’s onshore wind energy development so far is that Norway falls into a special category of energy country that has developed mountaintops and coastal slopes to a very different extent than it has done in other countries, Gullusen believes.
In other countries, they built agricultural landscapes, industrial areas, and port basins, built over logging areas and along highways. It is a less destructive development for nature. Wind power in Norway has been developed in areas where permission to build a cabin has not been previously obtained. This has made wind energy a huge problem in Norway. The developers have gone to extremes of wind as the only factor, Gulowsen tells Dagsavisen.
Minimal interference with nature
AUF leader Astrid Hoym has also expressed reservations about the government’s now moving toward new investment in onshore wind energy. She believes that one of the reasons wind energy development has previously been so controversial and conflict-ridden was the lack of democratic control and entrenchment in local communities.
We are totally dependent on more renewable energy, so we are basically positive about all kinds of new green energy, including onshore wind. But: we should avoid getting into the same situation as the last time we had a discussion about wind energy. It was built in a very thinned nature and the license rounds weren’t so lucky. Development must be better rooted in local communities. This should be done under democratic control, with municipal politicians participating in the affected areas, Hoem tells Dagsavisen.
Communities must also feel that they are getting something. We are concerned that the development should give something back to the affected communities, for example in the form of a land rent tax on wind power, so you can see the money being returned to the local community. There must be a right back to wind energy so that no one can own our wind, in the same way that no one can own it. Separate taxes should also be introduced under natural law, which can also benefit municipalities, says Hoyem, who also takes care to carefully select development areas.
Wind energy should be developed on Earth with as little interference with nature as possible, she says.
– You must memorize areas with the most vulnerable nature, such as places where there are a large number of animal species listed in the Red List, or Sami interests in reindeer herding areas. A comprehensive plan should be developed that sees energy development where wind, water and solar energy are seen in context. If we want to get past the climate crisis, we must electrify everything, so we will need massive amounts of energy in the coming years.
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