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Morten Harket visits Utsira hydrogen facility

May 24, 2006, 10:30 CEST

"I am keen to take a closer look at Hydro's work in the renewable energy field and Utsira is a fascinating project. Different areas call for different solutions," said a-ha lead singer Morten Harket when he visited Hydro's hydrogen and wind power facility on Friday.

The hydrogen and wind power facility on the windswept western isle of Utsira in Norway is a demonstration project which supplies ten households with electricity.

When the wind blows, surplus electricity from a windmill is stored as hydrogen. A fuel cell or a hydrogen-powered engine then converts the hydrogen back into electricity as needed when the wind lulls.

In this way, the users of the facility have a stable and secure power supply without being dependent on electricity from the national grid.

"I am aware of the considerable resistance to windmills here Norway," says Harket, who fronts the celebrated Norwegian pop group a-ha. "A lot of people are concerned about the noise and visual impact windmills will have on the environment, and also their possible harmful affect. My own impression, however, is that the windmills run surprisingly quietly and are a lot less intrusive than I would have imagined. There will be different opinions about this, but some people's objections pale into insignificance when you see them in the context of the environmental challenges the world is facing," says Harket. Utsira is a small island that lies off the west coast of Norway, an hour’s ferry crossing from Haugesund.

The island is Norway’s smallest municipality, having only 217 inhabitants. Mayor Geir Helge Rasmussen was present during Harket’s visit.

“I was among the sceptics when Hydro started this project. I was worried that we would be troubled by noise from the windmills, but in fact we can’t hear the windmills, because the wind makes more noise than they do,” says Rasmussen.

Harket was also given a briefing on Hydro’s initiatives in wind power and other renewable energy.

“It’s good to see that Morten Harket has such interest and knowledge of renewable energy,” says Hydro’s Sjur Bratland. “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to show him our demonstration project on Utsira – it’s something we are very proud of,” says Bratland.