The Norwegian government found itself in full-scale crisis mode this week thanks to a controversy around the unlikely combination of Greta Thunberg, reindeer and one of Europe’s biggest wind farms.
Who could have predicted that the face of global climate activism would end up getting held by police while helping blockade the Nordic country’s energy ministry, joining protesters who want half the giant 1GW Fosen Vind farm torn down after a court found it breached the human rights of indigenous herders?
Well, Thunberg was certainly a curveball, but maybe if Oslo had paid closer attention to Recharge over the last few years, they would have had a better appreciation of the simmering resentment of the Sami people towards the wind industry. A belated government apology this week may have been a start but Norway has no easy options to break this deadlock.
For its part, one of Fosen's owners warned that bending to the demands of the protestors would plunge an entire region of central Norway into crisis mode, pushing up power prices for consumers.
What the hell’s going on in the UK? After years of Brexit turbulence and revolving-door Prime Ministers, that’s a question the rest of the world has grown accustomed to asking, but it sprang back to mind again this week as the British government took heavy fire from the wind industry on land and sea.
In the case of onshore wind, the sector is furious that hopes of an end to an eight-year de facto planning ban on new projects in England again look in danger of being dashed, despite earlier signals that the latest incumbent in 10 Downing Street, Rishi Sunak, would finally relent.
Offshore wind is usually far less controversial than its land-based sibling when it comes to UK policy, but now the largest developers active off Britain’s coasts are also turning the screw on Sunak and his colleagues, demanding tax breaks in the nation’s forthcoming budget or warning they could even hand back hard-won government power deals.
There was some better news for Britain this week as a clutch of developers announced significant new renewable plans, including German giant RWE, which snapped up a 6GW solar and battery portfolio, and floating wind partners Flotation Energy and Vargronn, which are scoping out a 1.4GW project off Scotland that would decarbonise a clutch of North Sea oil & gas fields.
The science may be mind-boggling but you don’t need to be Einstein to grasp the potential epic significance of a technology that could offer unlimited zero-carbon energy on tap. The tech in question is nuclear fusion, and Recharge’s report this week of the latest claimed breakthrough in the sector was among the best-read in our history.
The crucial word with fusion, of course, is “potential”. Recharge’s ongoing coverage of the sector has noted that despite the interest of big hitters ranging from oil majors to Bill Gates, fusion finds it hard to shake off its tag of “always being 40 years away” from changing the world.