Midtfjellet wind farm
- A Norwegian success story? …or absolutely not…
It sounds so great with a wind "park" and green energy, at least if the energy companies are to be believed. Midtfjellet Wind Park (Fitjar municipality, Hordaland) was at one time Norway's largest plant and was supposed to supply electricity to 175,000 households, and the developments at Midtfjellet went from Phase I and II from the start of construction in 2011 and start of operation in 2013 to Phase III initiated in 2018.
The license application was submitted in 2005 with impact assessments that were even older. In 2013, Fitjar Kraftlag, Vardar, EB Kraftproduksjon and Østfold Energi were the owners, and in 2015 the German Aquila Capital was the majority owner, while Proff.no operates with the Luxembourg-registered Albatros Projects II Sàrl as the majority owner. What is correct is not certain, however, as Midtfjellet wind power still lists Aquila capital as the majority owner on its website.
At the same time as the responsible ownership structure is both unclear and unclear for most wind power plants, it is also a fact that almost all wind power plants are owned and operated by a property and operating company. In many cases preferably with a minimum share capital. It does not help if the owner companies are ever so large and capital strong when the individual operating company does not have more funds than is absolutely necessary. The rush to build as much as possible and as quickly as possible in order to get hold of the subsidy funds has often been the major driving force among developers. The climate argument has often only been a substitute motive among developers, authorities and some politicians and at the same time also an effective means of stopping anyone who expresses skepticism about the massive natural destruction that comes in the wake of wind power.
Large government subsidies to straw companies pose a major risk to society
When we combine enormous amounts of public subsidy funds with wind power plants that are owned and operated through small straw companies, it goes without saying that the security that society should have had for clean-up after the end of the concession period (25 years) is not present. In contrast to practice in other countries, in Norway no form of financial guarantee is required from the developer when applying for a licence. Not even at the start of construction. And also not when the plant is put into operation. It is only by the end of the twelfth year after that that NVE requires the developer to present a financial plan. Because they only require a plan. No guarantees, just a rough plan.
The risk is passed on to the next generation
Now we come to what will be the problem for both landowners, municipalities and society. There is absolutely no guarantee that the developer has any money at all when you have reached the twelfth year, the turbines start to wear out and the coffers are emptied of both subsidy funds and all other values. Because we have absolutely no guarantee. The cost for poor municipalities and landowners is considerable when the plant has to be removed and returned. The joy of some light trails, heating rooms and some smaller payments on account can be short-lived when the bill for clean-up is passed on to the next generation. A 25-year license does not last long.
All society is left with is risk, big risk
What basis for negotiation do our Norwegian authorities have when the developer puts forward a bad plan because the company's finances cannot cover a later clean-up? We have absolutely no choice and we therefore have to accept the first and best text of the agreement presented by the developer, where they justify the bad agreement with the fact that the company is on the verge of insolvency, and there are no values that can pay for a clean-up. Clean-up and return is both expensive and time-consuming, and the bill will therefore in most cases end up with both landowners and municipalities. With approx. 100 granted licenses and over 30 already built, the vast majority will probably be left as giant landscape cemeteries with worn-out broken wind turbines, as giant monuments to a moment's stupidity and idiocy.
The environmental argument for wind power is crumbling away
In a situation where the builders should have acted in such a way that the population became confident of their intentions, what do they do? Yes, they take all the subsidy money straight into their own pockets at the first opportunity and drain the company of all available funds. At Høg-Jæren, the wind barons Tore Ivar Slettemoen and Lars Helge Helvig got Norsk Vind Energi AS (formerly Jæren Energi AS) 511.6 million in state aid from ENOVA in 2009. When the billion-dollar gain became a fact, they ended up in a bitter dispute in court.
When it comes to the climate argument for building these wind power plants, Helvig tells in clear and distinct letters where the real environmental commitment lies when the profits from the wind power are invested in cryptomining through his company Kryptovault. The green energy that he so-called brings to society is consumed by large computer parks that will generate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This business consumes energy equivalent to a power-intensive smelter. And where did the environmental argument and social responsibility become?
Midtfjellet Vindpark is drained of funds
Similarly, Midtfjellet got Windpark in Fitjar 346.5 million in state aid from ENOVA in 2010. IN the accounts for 2018 they state a turnover of 130 million with an operating profit of 29 million. At the same time, they took out an ordinary dividend of 28 million and an extraordinary dividend of 308 million. Is it any wonder we are restless?
The wind power industry spends large resources on glossy images and propaganda
At the same time, this is probably also why the wind power industry spends so much money on marketing, propaganda and lobbying. For Midtfjellet Vindpark, this shines through so clearly on the websites and in the company's profile manual. Here, the emphasis must be on using images that can "aroused emotions in the audience“.
In the profile manual can we read the following next to a collection of pictures of happy playing children and "windmills";
Profiler image – Expression in the image
"In order to arouse feelings in the audience, the picture must show joy - we capture that special twinkle in the eye. Clean and tidy surroundings with fresh and colorful people, preferably active in the mountains around the windmills. Exciting angles and depth must be prioritized, so that I get living subjects."
Midtfjellet wind power are proud, honest, socially aware and committed. These values must be shown again in the ticket."
The goat and the sack of oats
At the same time, it is also not so strange that it is Fitjar that got the first (and currently only) wind power plant in Hordaland. The National Association of Norwegian Wind Power Municipalities, LNVK, is the wind power municipalities' own interest organization that works for more development. At the same time, it is also the Fitjar mayor himself who is chairman of the board (has been on the board since 2013).
The builders and their willing runners seem more concerned with their own enrichment than with their social responsibility. In their communication there are plenty of beautiful promises and beautiful words, but at the same time they hardly care to show what they really care about most, when they use every opportunity to drain the companies of money. But never mind, nevermind, what do a few hundred million kroner from the community's coffers do from or to? When the authorities show more eagerness to collect subsidy money for the first and best developers who come forward than to invest in good solutions that do not destroy, then it is simply losing the lock in to the administration for good. They really are on vacation when it matters most.
The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's important role in the wind power case
The ravages of wind power in the Norwegian landscape is one of the most important environmental issues of our time. The Norwegian Environmental Protection Association has been fighting this for more than 15 years. This is only a small part of the consequences we warn against. It is sad to experience the massive environmental destruction around the country at the same time that our own administrative authorities often seem more development-friendly than the developers. The Environmental Protection Association is built around deep ecological principles where we take care of nature and our shared environment for the enjoyment of all of us and our descendants. We are the environment's tireless watchdog and perhaps the most professionally thorough and active environmental organization in the country. At the same time, we are also determined that today's enormous destruction of nature in favor of wind power must be stopped, both when it comes to granted licenses and for new ones.