The dry, cold winter of 1996/1997 clearly illustrated the vulnerable aspects of an electricity infrastructure based mainly on our hydropower capacity. Only a considerable import of electricity from coal-fired power
plants in Denmark helped avoid a serious electricity shortage in the spring of 1997. This is regarded as an exceptional situation which, in future years, should be avoided by national measures. A very important factor in this
respect is the commitment imposed by the Kyoto protocol, for both Denmark and Norway. The long term energy policy of Norway is undergoing a thorough review this year. So far, the following priorities have emerged:
- A higher emphasis on energy efficency within all sectors of energy use.
Increased energy production capacity, essentially by extending the use of biomass, wind energy and heat pumps. Upgrading existing hydropower plants and accomplishing smaller hydropower projects also have interesting potential.
- Reduced dependence on direct, electrically-based heating systems
Governmental activities concerning renewable energy sources are managed by the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Administration (NVE). The IEA CADDET Renewable Energy Programme is a very valuable source of information, and
over the next few years will help Norway fulfil the coming energy-related challenges.