Oil powered Norway gradually turns into the wind

UTSIRA, Norway, May 11, 2008 (AFP) – As Norway prepares for a future after oil, the gale-force potential of harvesting wind power off its long coastline has become an increasingly attractive proposition. “Wind-mapping shows that … Norway is among the (world’s) most ideal locations for wind power, both on the coast and offshore,” said Norwegian Deputy Petroleum and Energy Minister Liv Monica Stubholdt.

Yet the Scandinavian country, one of the world’s leading oil and gas exporters, today lags far behind others in taking advantage of this natural resource.

Norway has 15 wind parks, producing a little less than one percent of its electricity, and environmentalists and industry players complain Oslo has done little to encourage what is considered one of the “greenest” energy sources.

“The government should dare to spend much more to promote wind than they do,” Ane Brunvoll, a renewable energy expert with Norwegian environmental group Bellona, told AFP.

There are signs of change, however, as concerns over falling oil reserves and global warming become more prominent, with some 150 new installations either authorised or are awaiting permits.

Companies too are racing to develop new tec