Kristin Linnerud and Merethe Dotterud Leiren, researchers at CICERO Center for International Climate Research, have recently presented advice for wind power development at three large conferences in Norway.
“Would it be possible to implement policies for wind power that would take both Norway’s climate targets and the protection of untouched nature into account; which have broad public support both locally and nationally; and which in addition would be considered acceptable by both the power sector and other industries? I believe the answer is yes,” said Kristin Linnerud at a conference organised by the Norwegian Zero Emission Resource Organisation (ZERO) on 7 November.
She then gave the following three recommendations for how this can be done:
- The Norwegian government should present a plan for the electrification of Norway, and this plan should clearly state how we will use the power generated and give a thorough explanation for what the climate impact of the wind power development will be.
- Norway should introduce a natural resource rent tax on super profits from wind power generation – as has been done for oil, gas and large hydropower plants – and a share of the total tax revenue should be earmarked for the municipality in which the wind turbines are based.
- When untouched nature is set aside for a wind power plant – or for industry or construction of roads or cabins – another area of the same size should be set aside for untouched nature.
Most Norwegians are in favour of wind power
Most Norwegians have a positive attitude towards the development of wind power development, and there are actually twice as many who are positive as those who are negative, said Linnerud, pointing to the results of this year’s climate survey, conducted by CICERO as part of the ACT project.
“But there has been a marked turn towards more negative attitudes since last year: While only one in ten Norwegians was somewhat or very negative last year; this year, one in four have given this answer,” said Linnerud.
“What strikes me, however, is that most Norwegians are neither very positive nor very negative towards wind power development. Two in three of those who have participated in the survey have answered “don’t know” or given more moderate answers,” she added.
Merethe Dotterud Leiren had a similar message when she participated at Norway’s Energy Days on 17 October, organised by Norwegian regulator NVE, and at TSO Statnett’s autumn conference on 5 November.
“One way to lower the conflict surrounding wind power and set aside areas for untouched nature, is to restore ecosystems,” said Leiren at the autumn conference.
“This has been done at military area Hjerkinn (about 17km south of Trondheim), where Norwegian authorities are spending 500,000 million NOK on restoring it back to the standard of a national park,” she said.
She added that the government should also follow up the wind power debate with a clear message about what the wind power generated will be used for.
“We are facing dramatic societal changes spurred by climate change. For us to succeed with the necessary adaptation, we need to have the people with us,” Leiren said.
“The challenging task facing politicians will therefore be to make rules for wind power investments that strikes a fair balance between the need to protect both climate and nature, which enable local participation and involve a fair distribution of both benefits and disadvantages,” she said.
Research on social acceptance
The research that has been conducted as part of the EU-funded Horizon 2002 project WinWind has shown that what the wind power is to be used for and who owns it is often a major determinant of what people’s attitudes towards wind power are.
People who live in communities where wind power is built often show more positive attitudes towards wind power development if they feel they are being heard and taken seriously, and if they perceive to also be benefiting from it, such as in the form of increased tax incomes to their local municipality or the creation of new jobs in their district.
CICERO and regulator NVE are partners in the WinWind project, which is led by the Freie Universität Berlin. The project is now in its last stage and will be completed in March next year.
You can see a video of the presentation given by Leiren (in Norwegian) at Norway’s Energy Days here.
Research from the WinWind project was also presented at a conference in Trondheim on 14-15 October, organised by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and CICERO. You can see Linnerud’s presentation here (also in Norwegian).