20. aug, 2015

The renewable energy industry at Sørlandet

Utdrag fra tale i anledning NODE- konferansen, Arendal 18.august 2015.


The renewable energy industry at Sørlandet


Sørlandet is about much more than just oil and gas. This region is also an important producer of renewable energy, especially hydropower, and has been so for decades.


I have several times underlined the enormous importance of Norway's hydropower production, and especially our storage capacity.


We have a power system based almost 100 per cent on renewable, clean and affordable hydropower. Norway has therefore a share of more than 65 per cent of renewable energy in our energy consumption.


This is unique among industrialised nations and far above EU's target of 20 per cent by 2020.


In my view, these facts do not get the attention they deserve in our national energy debate.


One reason may be that we take our renewable resources for granted. The foundation of Norway as a hydropower nation actually happened more than 100 years ago, a long time before the term "green shift" entered the vocabulary.


Although the Norwegian hydropower sector is mature, there are still many new and exciting projects. Several plants that were developed decades ago are in need of upgrading.


Combined with new technological developments, and in some cases also utilising more of the available water resources, such projects can give additional production of renewable energy.


Yesterday, I visited Agder Energi which is the region's leading energy company as well as Norway's fourth largest power producer. They informed me about impressive plans for the years to come, despite the current low electricity prices.


Last year, I had the pleasure to attend the opening ceremonies of the Brokke and Skarg hydropower plants in Setesdalen.


Today, there are large new projects going on. Iveland is now being extended by building a new subterranean power station.


Furthermore, the water reservoirs of Nåvatn and Skjerkevatn in Åseral will become one reservoir. By replacing five older dams with two modern rock-fill dams, dam safety will also be increased.


These are two examples of large and complex projects depending on competence and innovative ways of designing new projects, even in what has been labelled a mature sector.


Some argue that the hydropower sector is conservative. My impression is that companies like Agder Energi through their project planning are thinking in a long-term perspective with the demands of the future in mind.


Hydropower has been, is and will continue to be our most important domestic energy source.