New trends for renewable energy in Norway

NORWAY - In Norway, most of the energy comes from medium- and large-scale hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of almost 30 gigawatts (GW).

However, some new tendencies are quickly emerging in the country's power sector, such as small-scale hydropower stations and windfarms.

According to statistics published by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), only 60% of Norway's hydropower potential has been developed; another 22% is protected, and slightly more than 3% is under development. NVE officials told Industrial Info that the remaining 14% belongs to the growing sector of small-scale hydroelectric stations.

This new type of plant, which has a generation capacity ranging from 1 to 10 megawatts (MW), allow for less densely populated areas to have clean, reliable energy. Currently, more than 400 projects of this kind are in queue to be approved by the NVE.

There exists quite a big potential on Norway's coastlines for wind power energy. Specialists claim that by 2020 installed capacity of offshore windfarms will be more than 5 terawatts. For inland windfarms, annual mean winds ranging from 8 to 10 meters per second are very common along the country's coasts. Currently, several wind power projects are being developed in Norway, the most relevant of which is the offshore windfarm Havsul I, which has recently been granted concessions for further development. Once finished, Havsul I will be the first Norwegian offshore windfarm.

Hydropower and wind power are very different in regard to megawatts installed and kilowatt-hours (kWh) produced. While 1 MW of installed hydropower capacity costs about 1.2 million euros (US $1.7 million), wind power is nearly 50% more expensive, reaching about 1.75 million euros ($2.5 million) per MW installed. On the other hand, the operational cost for 1 kWh produced in hydroelectric stations is about 4.2 euros ($6), and the price of energy generated in windparks is as much as twice the price of that generated from hydropower. Nevertheless, wind power projects are strongly funded by the Norwegian authorities, as they are capable of increasing the country's capacity significantly.



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