Researcher Kristin Linnerud at CICERO Center for International Climate Research presented on 15 August recommendations – based on research from the WinWind project – for how to reduce the conflicts surrounding the development of wind power on land in Norway.
The development of onshore wind power remains a contested issue in Norway, with many arguing that building wind turbines in untouched nature will have very detrimental effects on wildlife and the natural environment in the areas where the turbines are installed.
Norway should be a leader when it comes to balancing climate considerations with nature preservation, and “to do so, we must – first and foremost – reduce the speed of wind power expansion” because that will lower the level of conflict, ensure that all voices are heard, and give us time to learn from experience, Linnerud said at an event in Arendal.
The event was organised by CICERO in co-operation with The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) and the University of Agder during Arendalsuka, which is Norway’s largest political gathering, taking place every summer in the southern part of the country.
Keep national framework
“We should also maintain the national framework for wind power development and overall control over which areas are suitable for the building of wind turbines,” Linnerud said, adding that “otherwise the result will be a patch-work of different decisions”.
The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate presented earlier this year a proposal for a national framework for onshore wind power development, which highlights which areas in Norway are best suited for wind power development.
The proposal is currently up for a public hearing, with the deadline set for 1 October.
Increase benefits for the local community
Linnerud also said that in order to increase the public acceptance of wind power expansion in Norway, taxes on wind power profits should be increased and more of the incomes should go to the municipalities in which the turbines are installed.
Norway should also make a concrete plan for how to electrify the country, because research has shown that if wind power is used for specific projects locally or nationally, the acceptance for developing wind power tend to increase, she said.
In addition, wind power developers should – before they receive permits to install wind turbines – be required to draft a plan for how to bring the area back to its natural state following decommissioning when the turbines have reached their end of life.
Focus on offshore wind
Norway should also ensure that whenever an area is set aside for wind power development, another area of the same size is set aside to remain untouched nature, Linnerud said.
And finally, Norway should start developing floating offshore wind, she said.
Linnerud’s eight recommendations for how to reduce the conflict surrounding the development of onshore wind power in Norway are based on experiences and results from the EU-funded WinWind research project, in which CICERO is one of the partners.
The WinWind project is working to enhance the socially inclusive and environmentally sound market uptake of wind energy in Europe by increasing its social acceptance in wind energy scarce regions.
Live-streamed wind debate
Researchers from The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) and the University of Agder also presented their research findings at the event, and the presentations were following by a debate between two mayors with opposing views on wind power development.
After that, there was a panel discussion with representatives from environmental organisation Zero, the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), the Organisation for Norwegian Wind Power Municipalities (LNVK) and from two political parties – the Socialist Left Party and the Progress Party.
The event was streamed live online, and you can watch it here (in Norwegian).
To sum up, here are the eight recommendations:
- Reduce the speed of wind power development
- Draft a plan for the electrification of Norway
- Maintain national framework
- Increase taxes on wind power profits
- Give more of the tax income from the wind farms to the municipalities in which they are based
- As part of the permitting process, require wind power developers to draft a plan for how to bring back the area to its natural state when the wind turbines have reached their end of life.
- Ensure that whenever an area is set aside for wind power development, another area of the same size is set aside to remain untouched nature.
- Norway should start developing floating offshore wind.
Linnerud’s recommendations were published in an op-ed in Norway’s biggest business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv on 21 August.
Facts: Norwegians’ attitudes towards wind power
- Five out of ten Norwegians have a positive attitude towards wind power expansion, according to a recent survey conducted by CICERO as part of the research project ACT, funded by the Research Council of Norway.
- Six out of ten Norwegians are against wind power expansion if it involves building turbines in untouched nature according to a recent survey financed by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT).