Norway

Norway

Optimism abounds for massive development -- Norway getting keen

The Norwegian wind power industry heads into 2004 looking cautiously over the Swedish border at the progress of the green certificates market for its future direction -- but it remains optimistic for another year of growth. Although 2003 was never likely to experience the 500% capacity increase seen in 2002, the meagre 15 MW of new capacity is no reason for despondency, say developers.

Licences have been granted for a further 161 MW, with just 70 MW so far refused from the several hundred megawatt of applications currently on the desk of the Norwegian energy agency, NVE, reports the agency's Amir Nessiha. The two most active companies applying for licences have been state utility Statkraft and regional utility Nord Trondelag (NTE).

NVE is confident that its target of 10 TWh of wind power output by 2010 is well within reach, with around 3 TWh additional production expected over the next couple of years. Half of this could be from projects that come online in 2003, it says. The extended Trinn plant at Smøla will bring production from that site to some 100 MW by January 2005. So far this year, capacity has increased by 3 MW after NTE put its Scanwind prototype at Hundhammerfjell, Naeroy, into operation

In contrast to neighbouring Sweden, obtaining permission to build plant is relatively simple and quick says Nessiha. "Here it takes a maximum one year for permission to be obtained, and once a new project has been approved, a precondition is that it is in production within one year, so the maximum time from an application for a concession to production is usually less than two years," he says.

Whether or not a market framework based on green power credits emerges will be central to the growth of the industry. NVE sources suggest that talks are already at an advanced stage and a workable system like the Swedish model could be ready this summer. Nordpool's decision to set up a trading exchange for Swedish green certificates (Windpower Monthly, December 2003) will help. NVE's claims to soon have a Norwegian green credits system in place may be premature, but it does seem to be on the way.

Huge potential

According to John Olav Giæver Tande from Sintef Energiforskning, speaking at a recent conference in Trondheim, Norway has such favourable conditions for wind power that it is a country of huge potential. He says the government's 10 TWh target by 2010 should be easily achievable and he speaks confidently of reaching 20 TWh by 2020. His optimism is shared by Arne Olsen at NVE. "There is a constant stream of new concessions being applied for. There are currently 27 under consideration, with 12 more expected this year."

Norwegian wind power, it seems, could well outstrip that of neighbouring Sweden in the next few years. But it may well have to improve the grid first. While the grid is strong to the north and south, there is a major transmission weakness for wheeling power across the central area.

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