One of Norway’s biggest civil society organizations, Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) arranges support march all over Norway. The goal is to prevent the construction of wind turbines in protected natural areas.
Last month, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) presented the draft national framework for wind power to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The framework has chosen 13 areas in Norway as suitable places to build hundreds of wind turbines.
The areas in the proposal include protected natural areas in Norway.
This led many locals, civil society organizations, politicians and academics to react to aggressive wind turbines construction plans.
DNT is one of the leading organizations which raise criticism against the plans.
-We are positive for a comprehensive planning of Norwegian wind power development, but we need transparency and a better involvement of the population in the process. We are disappointed that important natural areas are included as construction sites for wind turbines, says DNT chairman Per Hanasand.
Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway, aggrees that the authorities do not share enough information.
“Far too many bad projects are being developed, with a lot of consequences for the natural environment they are built in,” she said during the debate organized by CICERO Center for International Climate Research and NVE.
Walking protest all over the country
As a reaction to the plans, DNT is now organizing a national protest walking movement that will take place on 12th of May.
“The resistance to wind power is increasing and more and more people see what is being sacrificed unnecessarily for green shift. We do not have to choose between climate and nature. With the current power surplus, the 86 wind power plants that have already been licensed, energy efficiency improvements and upgrading of hydropower plants, we actually have the energy we need to electrify Norway without sacrificing untouched nature, says Hanasand.
He notes that Norway must focus on other measures than land-based wind power. Offshore wind power has enormous potential, and can become a new industrial adventure for Norway, adds he.
On May 12, everyone who believes that it is possible to achieve a nature-friendly renewable energy initiative is joining the support march. DNT hopes that politicians will wake up and realize what they are about to allow. The politicians must choose effective climate measures that destroy the nature least possiblly, writes DNT.
“Nature is the foundation of all life and we have one of the most fragile ones. Through the support marches we will show the commitment to our inalienable nature that is now threatened. We do this in the way that fits DNT best, by walking, says Per Hanasand.
Expensive and unneccessary from socio economic perpsective
The expansion of onshore wind power remains controversial in Norway, with many people fearing it could harm both nature and wildlife. The plans of the government are also questioned with the argument that it is not necessary for Norway to develop wind power at all, considering the country’s surplus of climate-friendly hydropower.
Norway has an annual power production surplus of about 5 TWh, and hydropower accounts for around 95% of the country’s electricity generation. Meanwhile, the share of wind power is currently less than 4%, according to the latest figures from Statistics Norway.
In the near future, wind turbines may account for 10% of Norway’s power production, according to Liv Lønnum, state secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy talking during the energy conference by CICERO Center for International Climate Research.
“Wind power seems particularly suitable for such a wintry country as Norway… Wind power could contribute to reducing the risk of high electricity prices in Norway,” said Lønnum.
On the other hand, Professor of Energy Economics Torstein Arne Bye thinks the wind power plans should be dropped as they are too expensive and unnecessary from socio-economic perspective.
He notes that the real cost of the wind power is more than double the price of conventional hydropower in the country.
This is not carpet bomb
Besides the relevance of the plans, the environmental impact of the turbines are raised by other stakeholders Aili Keskitalo, president of the Sami Parliament of Norway emphasized reindeer herding areas in Northern Norway are among the vulnerable areas in the proposed framework. In Norway, these areas belong to only indigenous Sami population.
Keskitalo compared the planned wind power development in Northern Norway to colonialism.
As a response to this criticism, state secretary Lønnum said this is neither a plan to carpet bomb Norway with wind turbines, nor a protection plan.
Wind energy is relatively a clean alternative to fossil fuels but they do affect nature in other ways.
Infrasound created by the turbines challenge birds, other animals and settlements. It also affects natural migration route of birds and bats.
Another environmental challenge posed by the wind turbines is the large blades, which are made of fiberglass composite materials and whose components cannot be separated from each other. Burning the blades is extremely difficult, toxic, and energy-intensive.