|Posted on July 26, 2010 at 2:01 AM|
This is an update of my earlier discussion of this issue, which is coming to the forefront again now in Norway, despite having been on the back burner since as long ago as 2005-6. The latest opinions concerning the project are shared best in the Norwegian newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv (Today’s Business News), on Saturday, July 24, 2010 (archive not free, in Norwegian). I will do a bit of translating to communicate some of the details shared, with some remarks in brackets:
Several experts believe government authorities have done a too-bad job in exploring alternatives to the power lines at issue. One of these is Einar Hope of Norway’s Business College. To begin with, the Energy Minister has said that Statnett has no obligation to explore alternative resolutions as thoroughly as the chosen alternative. [In the U.S., this would have required an environmental impact statement, as well as a public hearing, which would have forced the authorities to examine both the environmental and economic costs of the project before further planning of any specific solution.] Einar Hope mentions the fact that the government has not developed the gas power alternative available in the North Sea, for its reserve capacity. Gas turbines already exist in this location and could be turned on again, but that they then come into conflict with power-hungry industry already in this geographic area.
A likely solution would be to couple the power grid to the aluminum industry in Karmøy and Husnes. Wind power generators already planned for the North Sea could also be coupled in to that net. This would create a north-south line, attaching the Bergen area to the power market in Europe, the European power grid, which is desirable for many reasons. [Much of the population of Norway lives in the Oslo area and is on the Europe power grid, from which we usually are sourcing power in mid-late winter, when hydro-power supplies in Norway are occasionally diminished.]
Other comments are noted by Ståle Navrud, who agrees with Hope. He is a professor with the Institute of Economy and Resource Management at the University for Environmental and Biological Sciences in Norway. Navrud points to the economic environmental costs. If you add these to the equation, it would be unacceptably costly to ruin nature using this equation. Given these costs, sea cable becomes more acceptable. Sea cable would cost 3 million more norsk kroner. This, it is estimated, would cost each Norwegian 50 kroner per year, or, in the Hordaland area alone, 500 kroner per household per year (just under $100.] [The total difference in price is really only the equivalent of $486,000. It astounds me that Norway can spend so much money on farmers’ price supports, tax gasoline at the pump at +80%, and tax nearly everything else purchased in Norway, including services, at 25%, and then argue about a sum under $500,000 - to save a pristine natural wonder.]
The argument against sea cable is that it is not technologically reliable, forming a longer cable than has hitherto been placed for such a purpose.
As the article notes, a variety of alternatives have been proposed, but too few have been examined thoroughly. One of the problems with the proposed solution – hanging over Hardanger fjord - is that it has the same net-risk weakness as an already existing east-west Bergen power source. One would think greater attention would be placed on Hope’s European grid-related suggestions and north-south routes along the sea.