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Norway Set For International Renewables Growth

The Norwegian renewables sector exported NOK 23 billion in goods and services in 2009, representing only 15% of total revenues. According to INTPOW, the Norwegian private-public membership organization for the renewables sector, the current export level is low but is expected to grow in the coming years, largely through expansion in the international hydropower and offshore wind markets.

The Norwegian renewables sector generated NOK 151 billion in revenues last year, according to the INTPOW-commissioned report 2009 Norwegian Cleantech Sector published this year. MENON Business Economics, authors of the report, found that the largest revenue contributor was renewable energy, i.e. hydropower, bioenergy, wind, solar and other clean energy. Together they accounted for NOK 72 billion in revenues. The next largest sector was power distribution and trading with NOK 44 billion.

Norway’s most international renewable energy industry is solar. The country’s largest actor, REC, accounts for 90% of the revenues from Norwegian solar companies and has invested heavily in production plants in the US and Asia. Biopower, on the other hand, is practically 100% domestic.

The Future is Hydro
The area with possibly the most export potential is hydropower because Norway not only has built up most of its hydropower capacity, but also because there are many European hydropower plants that are 20-30 years old that are in need of major refurbishment. These could be made more efficient through turbines, penstocks, waterways, and better use of pumped storage installation.

“The highest potential for growth is without a doubt hydropower, based on the number of people working, revenues, value added, and that it can also be made into an international industry based on the cash flow,” said Geir Elsebutangen, INTPOW managing director. “The maintenance, modification and upgrading in Europe will be EUR 85 billion in the years to come, so the export potential is right next door.”

Hydropower is the largest revenue generator among the renewables in Norway, with NOK 53 billion of the NOK 72 billion in revenue. INTPOW has outlined southeast Europe as the priority market for the Norwegian hydropower industry, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and in particular South Africa. It has placed China, India and South America as regions under observation.

Statkraft is currently involved in projects in Albania, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Clean Energy Invest, managed by Statkfraft’s former chief executive Bård Mikkelsen, was recently awarded the development rights for the Adjaristsqali cascade in Georgia. Most of the electricity from the USD 314 million project will be exported to Turkey. In addition BKK, owned by Statkraft and 17 municipalities in western Norway, recently decided to prioritize Turkey as a new market.

“The Turkish authorities have, through their energy policy, a goal of being self-sufficient in power within 2023,” said BKK. “At the same time as the authorities hope to get more self-sufficient, there is also a goal of increasing the use of renewable energy sources from the current 19% to 30% by 2023. To realize this, the country has had to open up in the last years for international actors with hydropower competence.”


Water intake/dam for Vaio hydropower plant planned
at the riverbank as part of Clean Energy Invest’s
Adjaristsqali hydropower project in Georgia.

© Clean Energy Invest


Solar Boom
The Norwegian solar power sector, however, has been experiencing its largest growth during the period 2003-2009. The average annual revenue increase was 86% compared to 11% for hydropower, according to the Cleantech Sector report. The solar industry also attracted a larger share of new employees.

The largest Norwegian solar actors are REC and Elkem Solar, the latter of which was recently sold to China National Bluestar for USD 2 billion. INTPOW foresees that the big export markets for Norwegian solar companies will be in southern Europe, particularly Italy, followed by Asia, the US and North America.

The industry made a recent breakthrough in India through a Norwegian trade delegation visit to Delhi in October. The trip enabled Norwegian supplier Prediktor to sign a letter of intent with Indosolar, the leading Indian manufacturer of solar photovoltaic cells. It also resulted in a letter of intent for Eltek Valere, a Norwegian producer of high-power convertors, with Indian solar energy company Bergen.

The Indian company is named Bergen after Norway’s second largest city because the founder had visited the city during his time as a student in Trondheim. The meeting took place coincidentally because the Norwegian state secretary for petroleum and energy that participated during the trip, Per Rune Henriksen, comes from Bergen and was intrigued by the company name.

“It underlines the need for the private and public sector to come together,” said Elsebutangen.

Another international breakthrough was the recent collaboration last December between Norwegian solar technology company Aventa and Chevron Phillips Chemicals International, which has resulted in a high temperature polymer collector for the global solar thermal market. A solar collector converts sunlight to usable heat energy, hot water and space heating. The main benefit for using polymer materials in solar collectors is lower compared to conventional flat plate collectors.


Offshore Wind Breakthroughs
Norway’s wind energy industry is currently among the smallest of the renewable energy revenue contributors. The sector employs 848 people and generates NOK 2 billion in annual revenues. The wind energy value chain comprises approximately 140 companies within wind power generation, windmill technology, windmill installations, and other wind power.

Danish company Vestas is the largest employer in the wind energy segment in Norway, but there are expectations that Norwegian petroleum technology will be increasingly used for offshore wind projects. Owec Tower and Aker Solutions, for example, have delivered the first substructures for deep offshore wind projects.

Energy companies Statoil and Statkraft have been engaged in onshore wind power projects in Norway, but have turned their focus offshore. The two partners are developing huge wind parks off the coast of the UK via the Doggerbank and Sheringham Shoal projects. In addition, Statoil is planning to extend its successful testing on the first full-scale floating turbine, Hywind, with a five-turbine project.

Offshore Norway, Vestavind Offshore is well on its way to developing the country’s first full-scale offshore wind park Havsul. The group, comprising of BKK, Haugaland Kraft, SFE, Sognekraft, Sunnfjord Energi, SKL and Tafjord, plans on spending NOK 7 billion to develop the 38-80 turbines at Sandøy on the northwest coast of Norway, providing power for 50,000 households.