Harald Birkeland, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Administration

Norway is blessed with abundant energy resources, both renewable and fossil ones. Virtually all electricity produced in Norway is based on hydropower. A large part of the energy demand for space heating is covered through the use of direct electrical resistance heaters. This provides no direct heating alternative in cases of electricity shortages, although open fireplaces are often used outside the largest cities.

The national energy consumption, which has increased steadily in the last decades, has now roughly equalled the mean national production capacity. Estimated trend figures show that the consumption will rise by almost 30% by the year 2020.

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.

The CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter is a quarterly magazine published by the CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy at ETSU, UK.

The articles published in the Newsletter reflect the opinions of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official view of CADDET.

Enquiries concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to
Pauline Toole, Editor, CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1235 432968, Fax: +44 1235 433595.