The most important questions – and our answers
What is the European relevance of this collaboration?
Norway alone has 50% of Europe’s power storage capacity, and could increase it without building new dams. Thus, Norway can offer cheap, large-scale, and low-carbon flexibility to balance the massive amounts of wind and solar energy that are necessary for Europe to meet its climate targets. In absolute terms, Germany is the leader in solar and wind. In a spirit of good collaboration with neighbours and European partners, the collaboration between Norway and Germany on renewables is therefore highly relevant for the success of Europe’s transition to a sustainable energy supply system.
Norway already has 100% renewables, why should it do more?
With its power storage capacities, and its fantastic renewable generation resources, Norway holds a key to the decarbonisation of the European power sector. Taking its green-electricity certificate export into account, only around 30% of Norway’s electricity consumption is based on renewables. Moreover, despite its hydropower endowments, Norway is one of the European countries with the highest CO2 emissions per capita.
How can the impact of power cables and wind turbines be justified?
All in all renewables have much lower impacts on nature and people than fossil fuels and nuclear energy. To avoid disastrous climate change, we must expand the feasible alternatives. In Norwegian media, the impact of wind turbines is sometimes exaggerated. In Germany, the acceptance is very high, especially among people living close to them.
Why should Norway accept impacts on its nature and quality of life to help Europe?
Not just “to help Europe”, but also in its own national interest: to mitigate climate change and develop a strategic position for the post-oil and gas era. People in other countries too accept these impacts in the name of deploying renewables and fighting climate change. And what about the rights of future generations and the most vulnerable people in poor countries, for instance climate refugees? As the second-least densely populated country in Europe, Norway can preserve its nature and wilderness, and at the same time contribute to the European energy transition.
Do renewables in Norway or international power cables really help reducing carbon emissions?
Yes, they undoubtedly do. Energy efficiency and renewables are essential to mitigate climate change. If sufficient connection is provided, every kilowatt-hour not consumed or additionally produced in Norway can be used to substitute fossil fuel consumption in other countries by balancing large amounts of wind and solar. In the medium term, a power system based on renewables is not compatible with inflexible power plants. Thus, coal will be pushed out of the system and gas will be the main source of fossil-fuel back-up, further reducing emissions.
Why should Norway accept higher prices by exporting more of its electricity?
Norway’s contribution is more about trading than exporting electricity. At times of high wind or solar production, Norway can import cheaper electricity from Germany and other countries, save water in the reservoirs, and export it at higher prices at times of low wind production. Average power prices in Norway could actually decrease. But if they increase, Norwegian producers will benefit. Many of them are publicly owned: a socially fair redistribution can be organised. Finally, thanks to its oil and gas exports, Norway is one of the richest countries on earth. If Norway does not act, who will?
Shouldn’t we first wait and see if Germany is serious about the Energiewende
The renewable energy revolution already started throughout Europe, not only in Germany. Wind and solar energy will certainly grow further, and with them the demand for Norwegian storage. Germany will continue to be a leader in this process. The further deployment of renewables is supported by an overwhelming majority of the German population, and by all political parties.