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NORWAY

Why Norwegian fishermen are against more offshore wind farms

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association fears that the large-scale development of offshore wind farms will cause damage to their livelihoods.

Why Norwegian fishermen are against more offshore wind farms
Photo by Agustin Piñero from Pexels

Large-scale expansion of the wind farms could cause irreversible damage to coastal fishing, the association has said.

“There is a risk of destroying one of Norway’s most important industries in order to build up something (wind energy) that we don’t know the impact of,” the leader of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association, Kjell Ingebrigtsen, told newspaper Klassekampen.

There are approximately 11,000 fishermen in Norway according to official data, hauling in around 2.5 million tonnes of fish each year. Around 40,000 jobs are dependent on the country’s fishing industry.

Offshore wind is one of the fastest growing forms of energy globally, meanwhile. The EU plans to expand its wind capacity to 25 times its current size by 2030.

Most political parties in Norway also see large-scale development of offshore wind as an important part of the shift towards green renewable energy.

Ingebrigtsen says he believes this rapid development of wind power could cause permanent damage to the fishing industry.

“It is important to have good climate solutions. But you cannot just push the challenges out to sea. It will have major consequences,” he told Klassekampen.

READ MORE: What happens if you get caught breaking the Covid-19 rules in Norway

Although Norway’s sea area is six-and-a-half times larger than its land mass, Ingebrigtsen says offshore wind farms and fisherman are both vying for the same space.

“Norwegian sea areas are large, but both bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind farms are often placed in shallow water for technical reasons. Such areas are often the best fishing areas and important spawning areas for the fish,” he said.

Fishermen often have to keep their distance from offshore wind farms due to safety reasons, floating offshore wind farms have mooring lines which can cause major problems for boats.

To ensure there is room for both industries to thrive The Fishermen’s Association has asked the government to submit a report to Norwegian parliament for “coexistence and utilisation of the sea”. The organisation has also asked to meet the minister for energy, Tony Tiller, ahead of a report on energy in May.

“If coexistence is to be possible, we are dependent on thorough analysis being carried out before projects are opened up. It involves a complete analysis of the environmental impact of development, mapping of the seabed and consequences for fishing and spawning areas, Ingebrigtsen said.

Minister for Petroleum and Energy Tiller said that the government will listen to fishing industry concerns before the energy report is presented in May.

“We will have a meeting with the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association before the report is presented and are in the process of finding a suitable meeting time,” he informed Klassekampen.

However, he rejects Ingebrigtsen’s view that a separate report for the use of the sea is required.

“When more activities are to take place on the continental shelf, a well-regulated and well-functioning relationship between the various users important for achieving good resource management and high overall value creation. In Norway, we have a long and positive experience with this, and the government aims to discuss the relationship between the various users of the sea in the forthcoming report to parliament,” he said.

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ENERGY

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

Due to soaring prices, the Norwegian government is mulling over several solutions, including a potential price cap for electricity and limiting energy exports abroad. 

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

High energy exports in the last 12 months, low filling levels in Norwegian reservoirs and an uncertain energy situation around Europe have led to soaring electricity prices in southern Norway. 

Last year the government introduced a scheme whereby it covers 80 percent of consumers’ energy bills where the price rose above 70 øre/kWh. The portion of the bill under 70 øre is paid in full by households. The portion the government covers will increase to 90 percent in October. 

Critics have argued that the current scheme still leaves households struggling with their bills. As a result, Norway’s government has said it is mulling its options to curb energy bills.

Norway primarily depends on hydroelectric dams to help it meet its energy needs. Still, reservoirs in southern Norway have been at the lowest level for ten years, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Low reservoir filling over the past year has conceded with record exports with higher prices on the continent, making sending power abroad an enticing proposition.

Recently, exports have fallen significantly, and the government is considering introducing a limit to reduce the possibility of energy rationing being introduced this winter. 

“Restrictions on the export of electricity to Europe may be one of the measures that is needed,” Elisabeth Sæther, state secretary at the Ministry of Oil and Energy, told NRK. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ruled out completely shutting off exports to the continent. 

“It is a dangerous thought and will not serve us well. It could give us more expensive power and lack of power in given situations. We will hardly be able to import power when we need it without contributing to other countries when they need it. There is a reciprocity in this,” he told the newspaper Aftenposten earlier in the week. 

Sæther also told NRK that the government was weighing up putting a maximum price on energy but warned that it could have unforeseen consequences. 

“We are afraid that a maximum price means that more water is drawn into the reservoirs, which we need for the winter. It is a serious situation. We must prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we lack enough power this winter,” she told the broadcaster. 

At the end of May, the state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year. 

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