image from http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/images/norway-approves-3-billion-for-wind-power-plants-to-triple-capacity/78530
Recently there came an announcement that Norway would install 1 GW (about $US 2.5 billion worth) of wind turbines just from one provider (Vestas - http://renewables.seenews.com/news/norways-statkraft-picks-vestas-for-1-gw-wind-turbine-order-459069). This uses up a lot of the 2013 decision to to deploy about $3 billion worth of turbines in a separate set of projects. So Norway is going to seriously up their existing 704 MW worth of installed capacity - but then so are a lot of countries. Cool, but what’s so novel about this?
Norway is country whose electricity is essentially all renewable energy sourced already. It is a sparsely populated nordic country that seems to have a lot in common with the “How to Train Your Dragon” movie - “snowy 9 months of the year and hail the other three” as well as “twelve days both of hopeless, and a few degrees south of freezing to death. It’s located on the meridian of misery” where there actually is a small probability of sunshine” - http://www.schoolofdragons.com/how-to-train-your-dragon/areas/isle-of-berk. But thanks to the remnants of the Gulf Stream, it is actually warmer than it longitude (56 degrees to north of the Arctic Circle) would otherwise indicate. There are lots of hills and mountains located near the coast, which is of the North Sea/North Atlantic/southern Arctic Ocean. Those are some of the nastiest waters on the face of the earth - huge waves, near constant gales and worse for weeks on end. There is almost no such thing as forest fires - its is just too darn wet - either from snow, rain or melting glaciers/snowpack. It has 937 hydroelectric stations that supply 99% of the domestic electricity supplies, and depending on the rain/snowfall, lots of electricity to export.
It’s 29 GW of hydroelectric potential delivered an average of 16 GW in 2008, a typical year. The country exported 3 GW of electricity for that. It uses “deferred hydro” as an energy storage arrangement with Denmark - when there is excess wind, some Danish electricity flows into the Norwegian grid, and the flow of water through some dams is curtailed. When it’s not so windy, the stored water is used to generate extra electricity. In contrast to “pumped hydro” energy storage (about 80% efficient), deferred hydro is as close to 100% efficient as can be had. Norway and Denmark are interconnected with underwater HVDC lines (“Cross Skagerrak”) with a 1.7 GW capacity in four transmission lines. In effect, Norway (and to a lesser extent, Sweden) are the “batteries” for the Danish wind industry. There are similar HVDC lines being arranged for Scotland, England, Germany and the Netherlands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NORD.LINK). This is especially important for Denmark because thanks to the Anholt offshore wind farm, they now produce over 40% of their electricity from wind turbines. And at such a high wind energy penetration, batteries are needed….
So Norway has no domestic need for the electricity made from these wind turbines. Apparently, this new wind based electricity is all about exports of electricity for money. But Norway is already such a massive ”over-exporter” thanks to natural gas and oil that its Sovereign Wealth Fund (thanks largely to government ownership of the main oil company, Statoil) now has roughly $US 850 billion in its kitty. Do they really need more? Oh well, at least getting money for the turbines should not be a problem….. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway
Actually, the latest ebb and flow of world oil prices as well as the methane that is priced in Europe based on oil prices has a lot to do with it. And so does the depletion of the once massive North Sea oil and gas fields (see http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=no&product=oil&graph=production). After peaking in 200 at around 3.2 million barrels/day (mbd), that has now dropped to less than half of that. The new oil fields being found are smaller and even more costly and difficult to tap, and at $50/bbl, they no longer make economic sense to do. Meanwhile, methane production (both from standalone fields, depleted oil fields and gas-only fields) has also peaked last year at 4.5 trillion cubic feet/yr (http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=no#ng - about 1/6 of what the USA makes, with just 5.2 million people).
So, for them, the future appears to be heading in the direction of wind energy. Plus, a couple of years ago - they got quite the climate scare - rain and snow rates dropped drastically for close to a year as did electricity output (increasing weather unpredictability is an effect of Global Warming). But it was still plenty cold, and most residential and commercial heat is supplied by - electricity. Methane is either for chemicals manufacture or for export (sort of like “why eat your seed corn?”), so making sure there is enough electricity - precipitation or no precipitation - is important. And as their fossil fuel money ball depletes despite heroic efforts to milk the North Sea some more, well, at least there is the wind to fall back on.
Perhaps there is a lesson there for the Governor of NY - who supposedly is searching wherever the realm he resides in for new supplies of energy now that the fracking dream in NY (which never really existed except as some weird fantasy, anyway) and also the nuclear nightmare (at least there are no more new ones planned, though there are still six “oldie moldy” ones cooking away and getting older and more worn out every day. If Norway, which could easily convert methane into electricity and export that elsewhere as well as make up for any shortfalls in hydropower can opt for wind, why can’t NY? Why search the seas for the Great White Whale like a modern version of that demented Captain Ahab, when placing turbines offshore of Long Island will actually bring whales to NY’s waters (once the construction is done, nice fishing and foraging around offshore wind turbine foundations). Is that too much to ask for?
And let’s just pile it on…. http://renewables.seenews.com/news/onshore-wind-is-highly-competitive-already-pv-costs-keep-falling-irena-459071. Get the hint..?