Channelling Norwegian hydropower towards greener currents: The challenge of conflicting environmental concerns?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionWorld Renewable Energy Congress - Sweden; 8-13 May; 2011; Linköping; Sweden 10.3384/ecp11057
Nearly 100 percent of electricity used in Norway stems from hydropower, but no further large-scale production is politically viable. There is however increased interest in hydropower as both a supplement to the national energy supply and as provider of balance within the European energy system. Interest focuses on: (1) increased pumping and storage; (2) upgrading of existing hydropower installations; and (3) small-scale hydro production. Such measures are also considered as climate-change mitigation. As a fourth developmental path there are also alternative processes aiming at reinforcing environmental concerns in existing hydropower, not least by revising granted licenses. These processes coincide with a reinforced focus on biodiversity. This dual environmental challenge is also enhanced by Norway’s follow-up of the EU Directive on renewable energy (RES) and the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). In this context, we here assess current political and regulatory practice in Norway, focusing on the status of environmental concerns, and the challenges Norwegian hydropower policy faces by the implementation of the EU Directives. The policy challenge is manifest as ‘trade-offs’ among hydropower priorities at both the strategic and project-specific levels; and is further enhanced by lack of clarity as to the ultimate impact of the relevant EU Directives.