Agder Energi is a member of Skift, a network of Norwegian businesses dedicated to ensuring that Norway reaches its climate targets by 2030. Skift wants to turbocharge the transition to a green economy, and as a leading company in the Norwegian renewable energy sector, naturally Agder Energi wants to play a part.
On 28 October I and the other members of the network met Prime Minister Erna Solberg and submitted our climate change accounts.
I was lucky enough to be able to set out the things that are most important to Agder Energi, and this is what I said:
Dear Prime Minister,
Agder Energi is the Norwegian electric power company that lies closest to the continent. Most of the electricity that flows between Norway and other countries goes through undersea cables that originate in our region.
There should be more of them.
Norway is the only country in the world with a large and growing excess supply of hydroelectric power. This electricity is needed in the rest of Europe, which wants to replace fossil fuel-based energy generation with electricity from clean, renewable sources. We have more than enough, both for our own consumption and for export.
We cannot supply the whole of Europe with electricity. But we can provide back-up for wind and solar power in all of the countries around the North Sea when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. Just a few extra interconnectors can ensure that millions of people have access to reliable, clean electricity.
If we look a few years ahead, Europe will be undergoing electrification using renewable energy from onshore wind and solar farms, as well as increasingly from bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind farms. A growing power grid at sea and on land will carry clean energy to towns and villages, to industrial customers and car batteries, to offshore platforms and charging points for ships, ferries and fish farms.
Norway should play a key role in this electrification process, at sea and on land. Our energy companies and service and supply industry can ensure that it does. That will generate lots of value here in Norway and contribute to Europe’s transition to a green economy. If we succeed, Norway’s role in Europe will be strengthened.
Unfortunately, powerful forces in Norway want to prevent this. They have a strange notion that we can and should keep our electricity to ourselves.
We cannot. Whatever happens, our hydroelectric power will be part of the European energy mix, not just on account of the interconnectors that already exist, but also increasingly due to power lines to Sweden and Denmark.
Without any ill will towards our Nordic neighbours, surely it must be better for us to retain the majority of this added value ourselves.
I hope, dear Prime Minister, that you will make that case strongly.
I became CEO of the Agder Energi Group four weeks ago. Some people see the regional power utilities as primarily being dividend and tax-raising machines for the state and municipalities. They are! But they are also companies of strategic national importance that will play a key role in the transition to a green economy.