We get many questions and comments about wind power and our business. We have gathered the most common questions we have been given and have tried to give brief answers to these.
Each project has to be considered individually. There are good and poor wind power projects, just as there are both good and poor projects with respect to hydro power.
That is why we have a licence system that considers each project individually. It also helps the municipalities, which receive major additional income through property tax. In addition, it results in lower power rates, as more power is produced in Norway. The price of power goes down when the supply goes up. As long as the demand for power remains the same, the price of power will go down. The wind power being planned today will also be built without subsidies.
In municipalities with established wind power plants, people are more positive to wind power than the population in general. Even people who live in areas with a particularly high density of wind turbines are positive to wind power, e.g. in northern Germany. The electricity certificate market has become a far more inexpensive support scheme than anybody could have dreamt, and we are now seeing that wind power on land is becoming profitable without subsidies in several European countries. Naturally, that is good news for the climate, because wind power is an energy technology with very low emissions of greenhouse gases during its life cycle. Wind power on land will be the most important technology for renewable energy production, if Europe is to achieve its climate objectives. In particular, we need the profitable climate measures. The UN Secretary General recently published an article on this subject, among others, and used wind power on land as an example.
Both the world and Norway needs more clean energy, because energy from oil, gas and coal have to be replaced, and because you and I will continue to use energy. The UN has considered a number of technologies and found that wind power has the smallest ecological footprint. The UN report was produced in connection with the climate summit in Paris 2015 and may be read here.
Here you can read about the standpoint of one of Europe’s largest ornithology and nature conservation organisations on wind power:
It is quite possible to build wind farms that strengthen the biodiversity of the area and which stimulate increased use of the area for exercise and outdoor activities.
That is a very good point. For example, the UN says that mining uses only small areas, but is very harmful for biodiversity. Yet, it remains absolutely necessary to replace fossil energy with energy technologies that have some such side effects. Wind power on land is the renewable technology with the lowest ecological footprint when such effects are taken into account. This is therefore an important part of the solution.
Yes, it is indeed logical. That is because all forms of energy production require area, and therefore have an impact on biodiversity. And it means that it is smart to use the technologies that have the lowest impact.
The IPBES points out that areas have to be used for climate measures and that it will be positive for biodiversity. When reading the IPBES report it is apparent that the UN in fact thinks that much more extreme measures are necessary to limit climate changes than land based wind power in Norway.
They have considered the reduction of climate gas emissions and preservation of biodiversity as important criteria for their choice and support.
Read the letter from the environmental organisations here.
Nature and climate are indeed closely connected. Renewable energy is better for nature than the fossil kind. Solar will gradually become the world’s biggest source of energy, but Europe is better suited for wind power, and land based wind power can contribute the most.
Both wind power and hydro power have an impact on nature and ecosystems, and there will be variations from project to project with respect to the size of the impact. According to the UN, wind power is the energy technology with the smallest environmental footprint. The UN report was prepared in connection with the climate summit in Paris in 2015, which you can read here.
The IPBES points out that area changes are the greatest threat to biodiversity. In Norway, most endangered species are found in forests and cultivated landscapes, and are threatened by commercial forestry and overgrowth. Mountain species are endangered by climate changes. Globally we are seeing, inter alia, deforestation as a result of agriculture and urbanisation. The IPBES thinks that, in many respects, climate changes will gradually take over as the greatest danger and that achieving the climate objectives through, inter alia, renewable energy, is essential and that this will require some area changes.
Hydro Aluminium at Karmøy has entered into an agreement to purchase close to one billion kilowatt hours annually (1 TWh) for 20 years into the future in order to increase its annual aluminium production by 70,000 tonnes.
They considered the offers from different power providers and concluded that wind power is the most cost effective and energy efficient solution.
The wind power industry is in favour of paying more to municipalities and counties if a plant is built. We support an improved/amended tax system that entails municipalities and counties receiving more than they do today.
There are strict requirements on studying the impact on the environment and people when applying for a permit. The permit application process takes several years. Noise is one of the issues that receives the most attention. Noise over 45 db is not permitted near buildings. For the sake of comparison, more than 2 million people in Norway live in areas where traffic noise exceeds 55 db.
Wind power will reduce the price of power. This is not desired by Statkraft, as it has a lot of hydro power. However, low power prices are very important to preserve Norwegian industry, and favourable for other end users, such as private households. That is why energy-intensive industries enter into large and long-term contracts with new wind power plants.
We need energy sources that produce when we need it the most. In Norway, this is during winter, when wind power is at its most productive.
Both hydro power, solar power, bio power and wind power compete on an even playing field, and receive the same subsidy per kilowatt produced. Thus, wind power is not more heavily subsidised than hydro power.
The best proof that wind power is both smart and profitable is that investors and banks think so and are therefore willing to assume the risk related to the significant investment needed for development. Another good example is that several major hydro power players are electing to invest in wind power.
Production starts when the wind force reaches 3 m/s (gentle breeze).
Max. power is generated at about 13 m/s (strong breeze). At wind forces above 25 m/s (storm), the wind turbine stops in order to avoid unnecessary wear and tear of machine parts.
Read more at www.vindportalen.no
The climate problems are real enough, and we say this on the basis of solid international research. One important solution to the climate problem is to produce more renewable energy.
Read more about climate changes here:
Biodiversity is important and the UN Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) considers both area changes and climate changes as the most important threats to biodiversity. Thus, we have to phase out fossil energy at the same time as conserving nature. The IPBES and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have previously carried out an extensive study showing that wind power is the form of renewable energy production with the smallest environmental footprint. Thus, well planned wind power may contribute positively to conserving biodiversity. The report was produced in connection with the climate summit in Paris 2015 and may be read here.
In Norway, there have been major restrictions when it comes to biodiversity and permits for land-based wind power. We support these restrictions, and we do all we can to protect the biodiversity of our projects.
Wind power provides cheap power on long-term contracts to Norwegian industry. This is major and important value creation. Local and regional extended effects are additional.
The wind moves the blades of the windmill, which, via a rotor, powers a generator inside the machinery room of the windmill. From there, the electric power is transferred by cable to the grid and consumers. You can read all you need to know about on and offshore wind power at www.vindportalen.no
Google is committed to supply 100% of its global business with power from renewable sources. This is Google’s first wind power agreement in Norway, and the biggest to date in Europe. Quite simply, Google has concluded that wind power is the best alternative when purchasing and hedging the price of power over a period of 12 years.
The negative aspects are the main subject of what is investigated when looking at the extensive impact analyses of wind power. Professional reports are openly available on the web for every project, and consultative rounds are conducted in public meetings both before and after the reports. A lot of work has now been done to further strengthen the knowledge base regarding the consequences of wind power. Read more here.
Wind power technology is developing in leaps and bounds, and it is very often both profitable and environmentally friendly to replace many old turbines with fewer new, bigger and more efficient turbines.
The upgrading of existing hydro power plants is very positive, but the potential is not great enough to satisfy the necessary phasing out of fossil energy usage in Norway.
The UN has considered all possible technologies for producing energy. Including water, coal, nuclear, etc. They rate wind and solar power as the technologies with the lowest ecological footprint.
The difference between Norwegian and typical European projects is a significantly lower carbon footprint due to higher production and far less concrete consumption for foundations due to the available solid rock. Here you can read a life cycle analysis for wind turbines.
Approximately 160 wind power projects have been denied permits by the NVE. That represents approximately 20,000 MW. The consequences for biodiversity have been an important reason for many of these refusals. At the same time, there are unfortunately examples of projects that have been built that should never have been granted a permit.
The Norwegian Environment Agency is now setting stricter guidelines on accounting for the consequences for biodiversity. This has the wholehearted support of the wind industry. The development of wind power must not threaten or lead to the loss of habitats for endangered species.
It is important to reduce consumption, but unfortunately, it is not enough. Fossil energy has to be forced out of the market by profitable new alternatives. The UN Secretary General accentuates wind on land as a good example of value added environmental measures.
All wind power plants go through a thorough permit application process that normally takes 3–7 years. Of all projects applying for permits, only just over a third are successful. The national framework that has now been proposed will set further restrictions by making it “significantly more difficult” to obtain permits in areas that are outside the framework. Nature, biodiversity and reindeer husbandry are interests that are assigned significant weight in assessments. In practical terms, municipalities also have a power of veto in the permit application processes.