Norway’s wind farm backlash spans the political spectrum | Rigzone


(Bloomberg) – After being harassed on social media and repeatedly saying she is a traitor who should be jailed, the 34-year-old Norwegian Energy Minister is preparing for a controversial election campaign .

In the country that amassed a trillion-dollar fortune built on revenues from oil and natural gas exports, it is the green energy revolution that is fueling one of the most heated debates. Wind power could be a staple in Norway’s plan to cut pollution, but many voters are fed up with machines as tall as skyscrapers. Tina Bru is the victim of abuse both online and on foot. “I’m not afraid of angry messages, but I can worry about the general political debate, how difficult it can be in some cases, like with wind power,” Bru said in an interview. “I’m not exclusively positive or negative, but we know we need more renewable energy in this country.”

The protests stem from the facility boom of the past decade. Wind generation has nearly six-folded and now supplies around 4% of Norway’s total electricity, with hydropower plants providing most of the rest. By the mid-2020s, much of Norway’s important oil industry will be powered by renewables, energy regulators say. The grid company Statnett SF expects a 30% increase in demand by 2040 with the desire to electrify both industry and transport.

As the cost of wind power drops, more and more voters want to see less. They prefer to see alternatives like more hydroelectricity or even fossil fuels, which would be contrary to the government’s environmental goals. A survey in November showed that only 36% favored onshore wind as a source of energy, up from 84% in 2011. The popularity of oil rose to 29% from 16% five years ago, according to the report. Kantar Climate Barometer, which surveyed 2,085 people.

The backlash from the public and lawmakers has gone so far that industry consultant StormGeo Nena Analysis said last month that more wind farms were unlikely to be built on earth by 2034. Statnett is even more skeptical, seeing no further large-scale development. never except for offshore.

Opponents of wind farms come from all walks of life. They include environmentalists concerned about the impact on nature and wildlife and people who work in the oil and gas industry.

Elections are scheduled for September and the main political parties are starting to adjust their programs. Some who previously supported onshore wind now oppose it, including traditional climate parties, the Socialist Left Party, the Green Party and the Liberals.

The socialist left had turbines on the front page of its program in 2013, but it is now aiming for a ban. While Bru’s ruling conservative party plans to improve licensing to give local communities a voice and greater consideration for the environment, the far right and far left have refused to take down their main platform. .

Eivind Salen, teacher and chairman of the Motvind resistance group, says they should all go one step further. “We want to smother it completely.”

While most people are content with peaceful protests, there have been a few serious incidents, said Andreas Thon Aasheim, special adviser to the Norwegian Wind Lobbying Organization.

“The brakes of the cars have been tampered with. Excavators were set on fire. The caps on the machines were removed, causing diesel and fluid to leak, ”he said.

Industry executives say companies could disappear due to growing resistance. It would also upset the specialized construction sector that installs the machines, threatening thousands of jobs and ultimately the country’s electrification plan.

“It won’t be possible at all,” said Espen Borgir Christophersen, partner of Stormvind AS. “Those who think otherwise, please prove me wrong.”

Bru sees a need for more electricity and faster reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Everyone is going to drive an electric car,” Bru said. “A lot of things are going to go electric. It is important that politicians plan how to meet this need. “

Environmentalists are lining up with supporters of the anti-wind oil industry. Jorgen Randers, former director of WWF Norway and retired physics professor, would prefer to see more hydropower. Hogne Hongset, who has worked as an adviser to the national oil company and one of the energy workers’ unions, said Norway should continue to produce oil and gas. This year, the 80-year-old got into trouble with the police for the first time in his life during a protest against the wind and was fined 6,000 crowns ($ 685). “It was worth it,” Hongset said.

Bru is preparing for next year’s election campaign, still touched by a meeting last summer when she was prevented from attending a meeting in Haugesund, just north of the oil capital Stavanger. It was the first time she felt uncomfortable doing her job as a politician, and she continues to receive hate messages almost daily.

“There is no doubt that wind power involves significant encroachments on nature,” said Bru. “But any kind of power development does the same. This is important to keep in mind.

© 2020 Bloomberg LP

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