Country's election result an opportunity for wind

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Norway's newly elected coalition government must spend time hammering out agreement on the thorny issues of Arctic oil drilling and gas fired generation, giving wind development a new opportunity to look good. September's elections shifted power from a centre-right to a Labour-led alliance that includes the socialist Left and Centre parties. Labour supports new oil and gas drilling in the Barents Sea and also believes new gas fired plants can be built without endangering Norway's commitments to reduce carbon emissions under the Kyoto protocol. The Left and Centre parties do not entirely agree, which could make wind a more attractive option for continuing to reduce the country's dependence on hydropower. "Since some of the parties are against gas fired production they may well see wind as a better alternative," says Arne Jakobsen of GreenStream Network in Oslo. "The election results may not be a big change [for wind] but they may point to the possibility of a speedier process for wind development." As a green certificates broker, Jakobsen says the country's slight move to the left is not likely to change support for Norway's merger with Sweden's renewable energy market, which requires electricity retailers to acquire green power certificates to demonstrate they are meeting government targets for renewables production. Norway's green certificates legislation its working its way through parliament. But the arrival of a left wing government does open the door, Jakobsen said, for renewed pressure on the new coalition government to put Norway's existing wind facilities back into the common certificates system being developed with Sweden. Neither existing wind facilities, small hydro, or biofuel generation are eligible in the current proposed certificates scheme, scheduled to begin January 1, 2007. "As the Norwegian framework exists now, it really punishes wind pioneers," Jakobsen said. "The Swedish system has avoided this. I think now is the time to remind politicians to settle this issue the right way."

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