North wind power

August 20, 2002, 01:00 CEST

A wind power park on the remote far northern Norwegian island of Havøygavlen - built jointly by Hydro and energy development companies Nuon and Norsk Miljøkraft - will start generating electricity in October.

Some 40 workers have been busy all summer installing 16 giant wind turbines on the island of Havøygavlen, 180 kilometers north-east of Hammerfest in Måsøy municipality in the North Norway county of Finnmark, to start operations in October.

The wind turbines, delivered by Danish/German company Nordex, are the largest currently available on the market with a capacity of 2.5 megawatts each. The park's total production of 40 megawatts is comparable to about 10 percent of a modern gas power plant. The Havøygavlen wind park is capable of supplying 5,000 to 6,000 households with electricity.

The facility represents a doubling of the wind power capacity currently produced in Norway, says Morten Røsæg, project development manager in Hydro Energy and board chairman of company Arctic Wind.

Public assistance

The idea to build a wind power park in Finnmark came from Norsk Miljøkraft AS, which did the initial leg-work. The Tromsø, Norway based energy development company later joined forces with Dutch energy concern Nuon to realize the project. Nuon has an ownership share of 53.3 percent in the jointly held Arctic Wind, while Hydro has 41.5 percent and Norsk Miljøkraft five percent.

Of the NOK 336 million (USD 44 million) that the wind park has cost to build, some NOK 65 million has been contributed by the Norwegian government.

"Without some form of public support, the wind power project would not be economically feasible for the developers," says Røsæg. "In addition, the sale of green power certificates has carried substantial weight for the project's economic viability."

The green power certificate system originated in the Netherlands and has inspired start-ups in several European countries. The certificates guarantee that the power sold is produced by an environmentally friendly means. It can also give buyers a certified reduction in the electricity tax levied in many European countries.

Calm breeze or howling gale

The Havøygavlen site satisfies the demands for a wind power park. With an average wind speed of more than 9 meters per second, it is actually one of the best places for wind power in all Europe, says Øysten Jacobsen, Hydro's project manager for the Havøygavlen endeavor. The island has good stable wind conditions and access to established infrastructure. It is hooked up to the power transmission network in Norway and has a developed harbor into which equipment can be shipped.

The equipment consists of 120 meter-high wind turbines with rotor blades that cover a 5,000 square meter area, about the same size as a standard football field.  The turbines produce energy with a wind power of up to 25 meters per second, comparable to a howling gale. They can withstand severe winds, but production is shut down for safety reasons when winds reach hurricane force, says Jacobsen.

Environmental respect

The regulations require that there is a distance of at least 500 meters from the turbines to nearby buildings. On Havøygavlen, the distance to the closest turbine is at least one kilometer, Jacobsen says. He describes the facility as environmentally friendly and emphasizes that respect for the environment has been paramount in executing the project. Despite many critical voices, both the Diretorate for Nature Management and the Central Office of Historic Monuments have singled out the project as a prime positive example.

What now?

Hydro Energy is discussing other wind power projects both in and out of Norway.

"Hydro is evaluating renewable energy as an interesting growth market. Havøygavlen is the first step concerning wind power in Norway," says Røsæg.

"New projects under development must also prove themselves satifactorily profitable before realized. This will demand public support similar to that we have today.

"Wind power is one of several interesting energy forms, but it can't cover the increasing demand for energy alone."

Nuon backs renewable energy

  • In 2010, some 10 percent of the electricity delivered by Nuon will come from renewable energy sources.
  • The Dutch company Nuon, Hydro's joint partner in the Havøygavlen project, has set ambitious goals for itself: while the Netherlands has determined that 10 percent of the country's energy consumption will come renewable sources by 2020, Nuon has targeted the same 10 percent goal by 2010.
  • Nuon's activity within green energy includes wind power, hydro-power, solar energy and various types of bioenergy. The company began investing in wind power 20 years ago and steadily increases its activities both in and out of the Netherlands. Nuon is among the largest owners of a wind power park in China and in Germany. The company's total wind power capacity is 180 megawatts.
  • In 2000, Nuon delivered 25.3 terawatt hours of electricity and 6.514 billion cubic meters of gas to its five million customers in the Netherlands. It also supplies district heating and water.