Wind power on Karmøy
Hydro is interested in setting up a wind power plant on the island of Karmøy, north of Stavanger on the southwest coast of Norway. Plans were presented to the executive committee of the local council on Monday 19 January. These met with a positive response from the local politicians.
"There is increasing interest in new forms of energy throughout Europe. Our experience with new technology and our position in the energy market give us good opportunities in wind power. The wind power resources in Norway are among the best in Europe," says Knut Øvreås, who leads Hydro's wind power unit.
"It's important to realize this potential, to be involved from the start in order to gain expertise and positions in the new energy markets." He also underlines that Hydro is an energy company that looks towards the future, and will strive to remain competitive also in the future, when environmental targets and safe supply will be included in the frame conditions.
Hydro has looked into the possibility of setting up a wind power plant on Karmøy in connection with its focus on developing renewable energy and utilizing resources where they are. Karmøy has good wind conditions, good infrastructure, sufficient net capacity and it also has a high local energy consumption.
At present Karmøy is supplied with electricity from the mainland. The Røldal-Suldal power plant was developed in connection with the metal plant on Karmøy. The plant consumes around 4.5 TWh per year, which cannot be supplied from local production. But the island itself would be less vulnerable to power cuts and would have a better energy balance. Many people remember when the cable from the mainland broke in 1984 and the subsequent loss of power to the islanders and the metal plant.
"Karmøy is Hydro's home ground, and we like to carry out developments in areas where we have already established operations. With around 1600 employees, Karmøy is one of Hydro's most important work places in Norway," Øvreås adds.
Dialogue with the local authorities
The plans were presented to the local authorities with the aim of starting a dialogue on how Karmøy's good conditions for renewable energy can be utilized. "We have already started up wind production on the neighbouring island Utsira, which has been welcomed by the islanders," Knut Øvreås points out. The Utsira project includes a purchase agreement with Haugaland Kraft for the electricity produced. Haugaland Kraft and Hydro also intend to set up a wind power project on Karmøy some time in the future, with Hydro as majority owner.
Hydro is currently clarifying the best position in the south of Karmøy for a wind power park of around 20 - 30 wind mills. An area of at least five square kilometres in needed where the wind conditions are good and the impact of the development would be acceptable.
The work on the wind power plant will be a long process, which will give the authorities, non-governmental organizations and the local people time to express their opinions and influence the development.
Hydro's wind power plant on Karmøy would not be built until 2007-2008 at the earliest, after an extensive planning process and after all the necessary permits have been granted and good frame conditions have been set. The Norwegian authorities are currently working on the establishment of a green certificate market. Until this comes into force, or there is a transitional arrangement which allows cost effective investment in renewable energy, it will be difficult to set up new wind power projects in Norway.