Government backing for 144 MW island project

The huge scale of a proposed wind development on Smøla, Møre og Romsdal, an island near Trondheim on the west coast of Norway, has emerged with the authorisation of NOK 72 million in government support for construction of the first stage of the project. According to the national Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), the wind farm on Smøla will eventually comprise 72 turbines of 2 MW for a total installed capacity of 144 MW, producing 430 GWh annually. The first stage of the project, set to be completed next year, involves 20 turbines. State-owned power utility Statkraft, the developer, had asked for NOK 78.8 million for the first stage, which NVE reckons will cost more than NOK 320 million. Site wind speed averages 7.8 m/s at a height of 50 metres, strong enough for an estimated generation of 118 GWh a year from the first 20 machines. NVE granted a licence for the project last December, but objections filed with the oil and energy ministry delayed final its approval until September. Many conservationists continue to remain fiercely opposed to the development (Windpower Monthly, October 2001), which is reportedly the subject of a formal complaint to the Bern Convention secretariat.