Winds of change blow on Utsira's opening day

July 1, 2004, 16:00 CEST

The tiny island of Utsira west of Haugesund received a lot of attention on Thursday when Hydro's wind and hydrogen plant was officially opened. This project demonstrates that Hydro "takes the energy challenges of the future seriously," said petroleum and energy minister Thorhild Widvey.

The melodious tones of a brass ensemble filled the air as the minister and a large delegation from the media, together with other opening ceremony guests, arrived at the plant.

Musicians from the well-known jazz combo Brazz Brothers appeared from behind large boulders to create an evocative welcome.

Hydro's President and CEO Eivind Reiten welcomed the recently appointed petroleum and energy minister, who hails from neighbouring Karmøy, with the following words:

" It is great to be able to launch your ministerial career in such a fine way. It's difficult to think of a better start than opening a power station that is 100 percent-based on renewable energy, located right in the middle of your home county," said Reiten.

Before handing over to Widvey, Reiten expressed Hydro's gratitude at the support the local community on Utsira has given the wind and hydrogen project.

" Hydro is used to receiving the support of various local communities for our projects, but this tops the lot. I hope that time will show that the plant gives a lot back to the community here," said Reiten.

Strong and independent
In her opening speech, Widvey drew a parallel between the independence of the Utsira inhabitants and the boldness that characterizes Hydro's project.

" Given its westerly position in the North Sea, Utsira is a strong and independent community. The same words can be used to describe this energy development," said Widvey.

She singles out the combination of wind and hydrogen as one of the most future-oriented concepts aimed at producing renewable energy without pollution.

" This project will demonstrate how a local community can produce its own renewable energy, and represents one of the most innovative energy projects in the world. With this project Hydro and its partner Enercon are demonstrating how seriously they take the challenge to develop the future's energy solutions," said Widvey.

Green island
The minister then opened the pilot project on Utsira by starting up wind turbine number two at the plant.

From now on, 10 households on the island will obtain their electrical power from a combination of wind power and hydrogen. The energy will come from the wind turbines when there is sufficient wind. When there is no wind, or too much wind to maintain optimal energy production, the hydrogen plant will take over the job of supplying energy.

Mayor of Utsira, Geir Helge Rasmussen, is proud that the little community will now be placed on the new energy map.

" It's important for us to be a green island. All the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place with this project, which makes us self-sufficient with renewable energy. I'm lost for words on a momentous day like this, but would like to praise Hydro for the seriousness and professionalism they have shown throughout," he said.