Royal start up

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The opening last month of the first phase of Norway's biggest wind farm to date, on Smøla, an island near Trondheim on the west coast of Norway, was an event of such national importance that King Harald himself was happy to do the honours. "We have not tamed the wind," he said. "Only borrowed a breath as it passed by anyway."

This first 40 MW phase of a planned 144-150 MW wind plant comprises 20 Bonus 2 MW turbines supplied from Denmark. The NOK 320 million development is expected to produce 120 GWh a year. The second phase is due for completion in 2005. But whether this will now go ahead, given the likely cuts in the capital subsidies which have been available for wind development in Norway to date (main story), seems to be in doubt. Hopes that the Netherlands would buy the power from phase II through its green certificate scheme seem to have been dashed with the demise of the Dutch support system for renewables (previous story).

If built, phase II will add more than 50 turbines and increase annual production to 430-450 GWh, enough electricity to supply 20,000 Norwegian households. Domestic electricity consumption is relatively high in Norway -- five times the level of that in Britain -- largely due to the prevalence of electric heating.

The total cost of the entire Smøla project, if completed, will probably exceed NOK 1 billion. The project developer is state owned power utility Statkraft.

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