Wind power getting boost in Norway
Profiles of Norwegian Science
M. Michael Brady
Norway is a world leader in renewable energy, principally by being a major hydroelectric power producer (seventh in the world, behind China in first place, Canada in second, and the United States in fourth). Wind power is coming in a big way and now accounts for 2% of Norway’s electric energy consumption. It also brings other advantages, such as being able to supply power at remote locations and saving the economies of cash-strapped communities that now derive income from nearby wind farms.
In Scandinavia, wind power understandably came first to flat Denmark, which lacks the topography necessary for hydroelectric power development. In 1891, Danish scientist Poul la Cour developed and built a wind-driven electricity generator at Askov on the Jutland peninsula. In Norway, the first wind power turbine was built in 1986 in Frøya Kommune in Trøndelag County. It operated for a few years and then was torn down. From the mid 1990s on, single wind power turbines and groups of them in wind farms were built throughout Norway, particularly along the windy west coast.
According to the Norwegian online Vindportalen (The Wind Power Portal) at www.vindportalen.no, by the end of 2018, the total power capability of Norwegian wind farms was 1,595 megawatts (MW). On a per-capita basis, that’s equivalent to 325 MW per million residents, a figure that ranks Norway seventh in the world, ahead of the United States (191 MW per million residents) but less than half that of first-place Denmark (751 MW per million residents).
Norwegian wind power development is driven in part by the very nature of wind itself. Norway is one of many countries enjoying 100% electrification, and hydroelectric power is consistently reliable. But winds can and do take down electric power lines, sometimes blacking out areas of the country, particularly along the coast and in mountainous regions. So having wind farms throughout the country makes sense. This is one of the cardinal causes of an extensive effort by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate to develop the “National Framework for Wind Power,” published April 1).
Wind farms can have socioeconomic benefits. As featured by Aftenposten in its March 30, 2019, edition (Further reading), the outstanding example may well be the kommune of Roan in Trøndelag County. It’s home to the Bessakerfjellet Wind Park, built in 2008 and now the country’s second largest. Once cash-strapped, Roan now thrives, due to income from maintaining and operating the wind farm.
• “Vindmølleparken i Norge er et krafttak for Tyskland” (Literal translation, as double entendre krafttak doesn’t transfer to English: “Wind farm in Norway is a powerful boost for Germany”), by Olav Eggesvik, Aftenposten, March 30, 2019: www.aftenposten.no/amagasinet/i/qL6edz/Vindmolleparken-i-Norge-er-et-krafttak-for-Tyskland (in Norwegian bokmål)
• “Forslag til Nasjonal Ramme for Vindkraft” (National Framework for Wind Power) by Marte Lundsbakken (editor), Oslo, Norges vassdrags- og energidirektorat (Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate—NVE), in-house publication, April 1, 2019: www.nve.no/nasjonal-ramme-for-vindkraft (in Norwegian bokmål)
This article originally appeared in the April 19, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.