End of hydro era signalled

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Norway's prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, has announced that "the era of large-scale new hydropower development is over" and his government has decided to scrap several big hydro projects. "I know this is a decision that will provoke controversy. But the benefits of these development projects are not sufficiently great to justify irreversible encroachment on the natural environment," he said. Norway produces virtually all of its electricity from hydropower, averaging 115 TWh annually. Last year, however, Mr Stoltenberg's minority Labour government made clear its intention of promoting natural gas technology for electricity production and approved the construction of two gas-fired power stations at the west coast sites of Kollsnes and Kårstø. The state-owned power utility Statkraft, which describes the hydro decision as "frustrating," also holds the concession to build three wind farms with a total capacity of 800 MW in western Norway. The announcement of that concession, just before Christmas, ended a period of inactivity in the fledgling Norwegian wind industry (page 28).

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