Norway appointed a new energy minister who once labelled wind turbines “white monsters”, and claims oil and gas is a solution rather than a problem when it comes to climate change, in a move likely to cause alarm in the Nordic nation’s renewable energy sector.
Sylvi Listhaug was on Wednesday named oil and energy minister by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Listhaug – who takes over from previous minister Kjell Børge Freiberg – has previously been quoted saying Trump-like that wind turbines are “white monsters” that Norway’s countryside needs protection from.
The new minister, who takes over during a fierce debate over Arctic exploration, said after her appointment that “the oil and gas industry is not a problem. It is part of the solution to make the world greener,” and that working on behalf of the sector is a “dream come true”, Reuters reported.
The hiring of Listhaug is likely to jangle nerves in the Norwegian wind sector. Industry association Norwea recently called for the government to “to send out a clear signal that wind is still welcome in Norway” after Freiberg scrapped plans for a national development framework.
Norwea special adviser Andreas Aasheim told Recharge: “We expect the newly appointed minister to continue the important work carried out at the Ministry, and put her previous statements behind her.
“Ms Listhaug as a politician in 'election mode' and Ms Listhaug as a minister are two different persons, and we remain confident the excellent civil servants in the Ministry will help Ms Listhaug in her new job.”
Norway’s excellent wind resources have made it a favourite option for large-scale onshore developments, but the scale of projects planned has created controversy.
Recharge reported earlier this year how Norway was the subject of a complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination over its approval of part of the 1GW Fosen wind complex.
In offshore wind, as well as being a big global oil and gas player, Norway’s majority state-owned energy giant Equinor is a growing force in the international sector, as a co-developer of the world’s largest project, Dogger Bank off the UK, and as a pioneer of floating wind power.
Norway – which already enjoys an all-renewable electricity system thanks to its hydro resources – views domestic offshore wind, and especially floating technology, as part of an industrial strategy to extend its oil & gas sector expertise into renewables.
Update adds Norwea comments