Strong NIMBYs in Norway

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The future for wind power in Norway looks rosy on the surface, with 500 MW approved and waiting to be built and another 1200 MW in preliminary planning. When most of this will be actually realised, however, is anybody's guess, though two 40 MW projects are underway.

The hydro-soaked country, with 17 MW of wind turbines currently operating, has excellent wind resources and plenty of space. While a few small projects have come to life in recent months, 2001 will probably be best remembered as the time when the Norwegian public got really tired of hearing about wind and not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) complaints. "The local resistance against wind power development is very strong," says Knut Hofstad from the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). "People are concerned that turbines will spoil the beautiful landscape." Hofstad says the country's media is fuelling the anti-wind power discussion and it is hard to find anyone not against wind energy. "There are no pressure groups in favour of wind power," he says. "Generally environmental organisations are all for it, but when you get down to a specific project, they stop showing support."

Norway's energy economics are not helping. Large hydro supplies nearly 100% of Norwegian power -- and the selling price in the last couple years, NOK 0.15-0.20/kWh (EUR 0.019-0.25/kWh) -- has made it difficult for wind to come anywhere close, despite its 25% investment subsidy and NOK 0.05/kWh production subsidy.

Financial muscle

Hofstad points out that the two 40 MW projects now in the works (table) are both being built by companies with lots of financial muscle that seek to gain some experience. One of these is state-owned utility Statkraft, which will be installing 20 Bonus 2 MW turbines in the summer, says Statkraft's Nils Daarflot. The other, Norsk Miljøkraft, has teamed up with Dutch power giant Nuon and Norsk Hydro. It will begin work on a 39 MW project next month using 2.5 MW Nordex machines.

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