Should this become the symbol of Norwegian energy policy?
The recent power shock has sent a shockwave through the Norwegian population. For the common man and woman, this has been a surprise that intervenes directly in their everyday life and personal finances in a way they could never have imagined before. But is this really any surprise?
No, not for those of us who have worked with environmental and energy matters for a while. Let there be no doubt. This is a planned crisis. A crisis that has been planned and carried out with embarrassing precision. The goal has always been to transform the energy nation Norway, from being an independent nation with a surplus to becoming a nation with an artificial deficit in power. Now that this socially harmful goal, for them, is finally in sight, the pace is increased.
A planned crisis
Norwegian energy policy is not destroyed by the last government. It has been systematically and calculatedly destroyed by most governments and parliamentary politicians over several decades. From being an energy nation with a large annual surplus, we can in the foreseeable future now look forward to an everyday life with bloody electricity prices, weakened competitiveness and pressure on the individual's private finances. From having a good surplus that we have been able to export, we are now going to be at the mercy of imports from other countries and sky-high energy prices, or our last natural areas and waterfalls collapse. It is here that we know the goal. More development. Not only with nature-destroying wind power and sea wind, but this also puts more pressure on our last untouched waterfalls and waterways, and not least increased pressure to develop unsafe nuclear power in Norway.
When we have now got Titanic's iceberg in sight, we should have changed course, but that is not what the government is doing now. Investing large public funds in the worst energy wasters is exactly the opposite of what one should have done to get an already shaky energy policy onto a better course. This is definitely not a good climate measure either. It does not help if the hydrogen is called "blue" or "green". Wasting valuable energy is bad climate and environmental policy, and that is exactly what you are doing by betting on hydrogen.
Waste of energy is rewarded
Hydrogen is often presented in great glossy presentations as "clean energy", but this does not give the right picture. Hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy carrier similar to a battery. While you get roughly the same amount of energy out of a battery as you used to charge it, the effect in a hydrogen cycle is very small and much of the energy disappears along the way. If you use hydrogen as fuel in a car, you are often left with as little as 30% of the energy used to produce it. Hydrogen will never be able to compete in energy utilization with batteries and electric motors. Ammonia is a somewhat improved hydrogen cycle, but still far from good enough.
In a time where energy waste and uncontrolled exports has given us a scarcity and extreme energy prices, we must change course and not invest in even more waste. From having a system where you were previously able to plan your energy production in advance, you are now at the mercy of a bingo system of an electricity exchange where you drain depleted water reservoirs even further because depleted water reservoirs give higher electricity prices and even more earnings when you empty them even more. Trading through the power exchange Nord Pool and even more foreign cables has given us a self-reinforcing negative effect that gives us more scarcity and higher prices.
When connecting our small country with giant markets with significantly higher energy prices and at the same time removing most restrictions on trade back and forth through a power exchange, this is a recipe for disaster. In addition, they have also worked very purposefully and effectively in all other ways to drain the Norwegian energy system of valuable power and the treasury for public funds.
Large funds are given to ineffective and also harmful solutions. Everything that can sting from a good energy surplus has been seen by the authorities and the energy industry as "positive". There has been no shortage of subsidies and tax exemptions for unstable and poor energy solutions or for power-intensive data centers, Bitcoin factories, battery factories and hydrogen production. One has not only done one thing wrong, but everything that has been possible. One staggered measure after another.
Why didn't you want to listen to reason along the way, and change course accordingly? There is no doubt that all this gives big money to greedy energy companies, and to foreign companies and pension funds. Who exactly are our authorities working for? At least the Norwegian people or the Kingdom of Norway are not.
Good energy solutions are boycotted
Why don't you talk anymore? about energy saving (ENØK)? Why was the ENOVA support for heat pumps removed? Instead of doing the right things, good money is wasted on bad measures through ENOVA and other support schemes. When approx. 50% of the energy consumption in buildings, both in businesses and private households, goes to heating. Why not get the heat where it is available?
Heat pumps and heating from below the earth's surface could solve many of our energy problems. In addition, these are solutions that provide stability and security, and where the energy does not need to be transported over long distances. It is precisely by transporting much of our energy over long distances that much of it is wasted through power loss. The longer the distance, the more disappears along the way. Geothermal and geothermal/fjord heat can be the key to a stable renewable energy future. It has very little natural encroachment and is a good climate solution for the years to come. We have had both the opportunities and the knowledge for a long time, but still people have chosen to do the wrong things. Why? The answer is probably that they have listened to the wrong advice and let skilled lobbyists in tailored suits dictate policy.
The energy supply is destroyed by stock exchanges and unstable energy
Much of the cost to upgrade the energy system has been driven by the introduction of a lot of new unstable energy from, among other things, wind power. Already in the summary of Statnett's report, "System operations and market development plan 2022-2030" they write, quote;
"One example of a common Nordic challenge is that there is less so-called rotating mass that hydro and nuclear power plants supply, when unregulated renewable power and imports cover consumption."
When one both here in Norway and in the countries we have linked up with have phased in a significant proportion of unstable wind power, so this has put great strain on the energy system. Here with us, this has resulted in major replacements and upgrades of the power grid. Many of these upgrades have come as a direct consequence of the unstable wind power, and the costs of these upgrades have ended up in the lap of electricity customers as more expensive grid rent. This is also in addition to all the tax benefits and subsidies wind power has received from the Norwegian common fund.
The ability of hydropower to balance out these unstable power sources loses this ability when, in addition to balancing our own wind power, we have also committed ourselves to use large parts of it to balance the European power market and at the same time have complete freedom from energy trading on a bingo exchange that is only concerned with prices and earnings. We cannot both electrify everything here at home and in the North Sea, and in addition supply balancing power and be the whole of Europe's "green battery" at the same time, and at the same time bet on unstable wind power and offshore wind at the same time that all trading is unleashed on a bingo exchange.
It is very windy on Thursday, a little less on Friday, and on Saturday the wind is calm. Where did the sense go?
A deliberate policy?
When one has now changed energy policy, from previously having a stable, predictable and planned production model to a model where one currently depends on whether the wind blows or not, and with a trading solution that is only concerned with the highest possible return, it is not the Norwegian people, the climate, nature, or the environment that benefits from this. Those who profit grossly are also the same who have been allowed to dictate the policy. Expensive and unstable power at one end, and as much waste as possible at the other, have provided good growth conditions for greedy and cynical actors. They have taken full advantage of the climate crisis by calling everything that can destroy a good power system and give themselves the greatest possible return "green", "renewable" and "climate-friendly".
Weakened private finances and destroyed competitiveness
The argument that municipally-owned energy companies also collect more money disappears when increased electricity prices lead to increased operating costs in public buildings. Nor does it help society that Norwegian companies incur higher costs as a result of more expensive electricity. Having sacrificed several of our highest waterfalls and magnificent waterways in order for the people to have access to a secure energy supply, we have now quite effectively given away our best competitive advantage with a low electricity price.
We have given away this competitive advantage to exactly the markets we compete against when we want to sell what we produce in this country. At the same time, we are regularly told that we must develop more of this unstable wind power because they provide so many jobs. When we look at who transports the parts and does most of these jobs, there are few Norwegian jobs to trace. In addition, an increased electricity price for private households puts further pressure on wage increases, which in turn leads to inflation and further reduced competitiveness.
It is constantly argued so that the many external discharge cables and the transfer of power within the energy policy to the EU/ACER do not negatively affect electricity prices. This is not only untrue, but a gross misinformation. You cannot connect a small energy system like the Norwegian one to the huge EU market, with a free bingo exchange, and believe that the price level will not adjust to a roughly equal level. Norwegian power production is far too small to affect the price level in Europe. It is the huge EU market that now dictates the price level in Norway.
Bad solutions continue to be subsidized
When it is no longer distributed green certificates (electricity certificates) for new wind power projects, the goal has always been to make Norwegian electricity so expensive that it is still profitable to develop even the most unprofitable projects. On the one hand, they have destroyed the stability and predictability that the developed hydropower has given us, and on the other hand, they have made sure to drain as much as possible of our power surplus with unnecessary and unwise measures.
Through grants, subsidies and favorable tax benefits for obvious wasteful projects, a policy is being continued that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and not least also the environment and climate. Norwegian energy policy has been systematically dismantled and destroyed over several decades now. No single government should bear this blame alone. They have all carried this out collectively. We can feel the results on our bodies now.
Plasters on broken bones
When Norwegian energy policy now lying with fractures in both legs, the new government comes with a band-aid to stick on the cheek. You lower the energy tax a little, and give a little subsidy to someone, and then you expect the people to be satisfied with this. Without tackling the real problems, this will only get worse in the future. The first step to clean up is to take back all control of our own national energy policy and exit ACER. Next, we must remove the energy turnover from the Nord Pool, or impose strong regulations and guidelines on all power production and trade.
And not to get carried away the little remains we have left of nature and the environment with unstable wind power, or destroying the marine environment with sea wind, then we have to start with the best solutions and not all the bad ones. Get your investment back at ENØK. Get support for heat pumps back. Set aside funds for research, development and development of geothermal/fjord heating and geothermal energy production.
Lost opportunities or a new future?
It is something typically Norwegian when in recent years we have rather let large parts of our offshore expertise go to NAV than use it to work on our next industrial adventure, geothermal energy and heat exchange. For far too long we have squandered a unique opportunity to develop technology and solutions that can solve many of the energy and climate problems. Isn't it time to spend our resources on the right solutions?
We could as an energy nation been in the driver's seat and our companies and engineers were able to develop and export good solutions around the world. It is still not too late, but how long will we continue to build expensive, unstable and inefficient solutions that do not work when there is no wind? And how long will we continue to subsidize all the world's energy-wasting data centers and Bitcoin factories, unstable energy production that destroys nature, and how long will we continue to invest in inefficient and energy-wasting hydrogen solutions? We cannot afford this, neither the people, the environment nor the climate.
We said this in 2019
We said this in 2006