Insights and Opportunities
Overview: Norway and its Nordic neighbors are considered world leaders in the use of renewable energy, clean technology and alternative fuels. The governments are inclined to invest in energy research, providing tax benefits, funded expansion plans, electricity certificate programs and production incentives for the increased use of alternative fuels and renewable energy. Norway has accepted a number of international commitments to reduce emissions (including carbon dioxide, such as the Kyoto Protocol). These numerous commitments have proven to be a challenge for Norway, given its role as the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil and the third largest exporter of natural gas. However, in a political agreement in January 2008 between the Norwegian Government and the opposition parties in the Norwegian Parliament, the following ambitious climate change goals were stated:
Norway intends to cut the global emissions equivalent to 100% of its own emissions by 2030, aspiring to become a carbon neutral nation. By 2020, Norway plans to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 30% of its own 1990 emissions. Norway will strengthen its Kyoto commitments by 10 % points, corresponding to nine percent below the country's 1990-level.
Norway has a higher share of renewable electricity than any of the EU member states, and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy indicated a domestic target of 90% renewable electricity by 2010. This calls for significant renewable electricity production increases. Norway has the world's largest per capita hydropower production, and is the world's sixth largest hydropower producer. In a year with normal precipitation, hydropower generation is around 120 TWh, corresponding to approximately 99% of Norway's total power production. Norway considers itself a global environmental champion and is on the leading edge of several clean energy technologies, especially concerning carbon capture and storage (CCS). Production of power and other use of fossil energy are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Capture of CO2 and storage of CO2 in oil/gas reservoirs and geological formations emerge as potential measures to reduce global emissions. Norway aims to make full-scale CCS a reality.
The Norwegian Government's CCS goals are ambitious. The commitment to develop gas-fired power stations with CCS in Norway is a centerpiece of Norway’s energy policy. If successful, Norway will achieve a more secure energy supply and through technology development contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Government has also set a long-term collective goal of 30 TWh of increased renewable energy production and energy efficiency from 2001 to 2016. There is considerable interest in building wind power stations, and there are a number of smaller hydropower projects ready for development. This commitment is good news for the growing number of firms creating cutting-edge technology in the areas of hydrogen, solar, wind, tidal and osmotic power, as well as biofuels. Developing and marketing these products will demand a coordinated approach and attention from both the public and private sector.
Hydropower: Norway has considerable hydro resources and has over the past 100 years constructed more than 330 dams. There are still new niche developments and technology potential associated with hydropower.
Wind power (onshore and offshore): This renewable energy source is where most investments are focused and is also the source closest to commercial viability (incl. StatoilHydro, Sway, Scatec, Statkraft).
Solar power: This is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global energy market. Norway has ambitions and several leading solar technology companies (including REC Group, Elkem, Norsun) participating in developments across the entire value chain.
Tidal power and wave energy: This sector also has rising developments - based largely on Norway’s offshore capabilities, with current projects also involving osmotic power (salinity gradient energy based on seawater). Geothermal energy is another renewable energy source, also tied to Norway’s oil and gas production expertise.
There are a number of Government-funded programs for renewable and environmentally friendly energy. Some of these programs manage government funding for the testing and demonstration of technology for removing greenhouse gas emissions from power production. As a major producer of fossil fuels Norway considers that it has an important role in contributing to technology development. To develop the technologies necessary to meet the twin challenges of energy security and climate security, the Norwegian Government believes that it must use a mix of political incentives/ persuasion and market mechanisms. In 2007, Norway embarked on a major new research, development and demonstration project with a view to building the world’s largest full-scale CCS facility in connection with a combined gas-fired heat and power plant at Mongstad. The plant, located on Norway's west coast, is projected to be fully operational by 2014. This is a cooperative venture between the Norwegian Government and the oil and gas company StatoilHydro. The Norwegian Government expects the Mongstad project to stimulate international technological cooperation, which it considers critical for coherent, urgent and broad-based action on climate change. It should be noted that the funding model of the project caused problems with regard to regulatory approval from the European Union. Nevertheless, the government has pledged to go forward with Mongstad.
The Norwegian Government has decided that all new gas fired power plants shall be based on CCS technologies. The government strategy to achieve this goal involves a combination of technologies and processes, financial support and regulations. Gassnova, a government entity, was established in July 2007 with the mandate to manage governmental interest and support technology development within the area of CCS management. The Norwegian Government has also allocated $ 3.3 billion (NOK 20 billion) for a fund set up to strengthen efforts on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The state owned agency Enova will manage the yield from the fund. Enova will establish a support system for district heating infrastructure, and manage a support system for renewable electricity. In connection with the downturn in the financial markets, the Norwegian Government has also announced stimulus packages with significant implications for the renewable energy sector.