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Norway minister seeks compromise to save 544 MW wind farms

01 Mar 2023 10:44



01 Mar 2023 10:44

(Montel) Norwegian energy minister Terje Aasland is seeking a compromise to maintain production at two major onshore wind farms (544 MW) amid demands to tear them down – which experts fear could damage the country’s wind industry at large.

Norway’s Supreme Court decided in 2021 that the licences for the Roan (256 MW) and Storheia (288 MW) wind farms were invalid, because decision makers had failed to fully consider the rights of indigenous Sami farmers whose reindeers graze in the area.

Aasland wanted to find a way to ensure power production continued, while safeguarding the rights of the farmers, he told Montel late on Tuesday as protests about the farms heated up in Oslo.

The farms – commissioned in 2019 and 2020 and operated by utilities Statkraft and Aneo – continue to operate at full capacity despite protesters occupying government offices in Oslo demanding their removal.

“The question is if we can find some middle ground,” said Aasland, adding potential actions could be to restrict the number of wind turbines, increase compensation to farmers or introduce a mechanism that forces the wind farms to shut down in periods when reindeers graze in the area.

Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg was one of many protesters removed by police on Wednesday morning, after activists blocked the entrance of four government ministries.

Industry fears
Norway’s energy industry fears the case could have huge ramifications for the future of onshore wind power production in Norway, since most of the potential for new wind farms lies in the northern part of the country where reindeer graze.

A government committee recently concluded that Norway needs 40 TWh of new power production annually to meet rising demand by 2030.

It was therefore critical to find a solution to the conflict, said Aslaug Haga, CEO of lobby group Renewable Norway.

Plans for new power production capacity and grid development to aid industrial growth in northern Norway could grind to halt if the protesters won, said Porsanger mayor Aina Borch in a TV debate on Tuesday evening.

She feared it could set a precedence for future licence applications in other areas.

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