Man has exploited wind energy for thousands of years, from the very first sailing boats to ventilation systems dating back to 300 BC. In the 19th century, wind mills were constructed all along the Norwegian coast to grind grain. The international oil crisis at the beginning of the 1970s helped spur the development of modern wind generators for the production of electricity. Wind energy remains one of the most eco-friendly energy sources for large-scale energy production.
Statkraft’s wind energy initiatives
In 1997, Statkraft decided to focus on the development of wind energy projects. The group’s first wind farm was opened by King Harald at Smøla in 2002. This was also Norway’s first major wind farm. Currently, Statkraft has three wind farms in operation in Norway, and a number of projects are being developed.
Since 2008, Statkraft has concentrated the development of Norwegian, land-based wind energy projects in SAE Vind, a joint-venture with Agder Energy. In Sweden, Statkraft is collaborating with a number of partners to develop wind energy. In the UK we are developing wind energy both on land and offshore.
The future of wind energy
Germany, Spain and Denmark are amongst the European countries with the most extensive development of wind energy. Norway, Sweden and the UK still have a great potential for the development of land-based wind energy. The UK also has a number of shallow maritime areas which are well-suited for the development of wind farms resting on the seabed. British authorities aim to develop a total of 25 000 MW of offshore wind energy in the coming years. Statkraft is applying for licences for the construction of both land-based and offshore wind farms.
In the long-term, more development will take place offshore, where there are good wind resources and space for larger wind farms. The development will first take place in the shallow areas of the North Sea basin, where the turbine towers can be installed on the seabed. The deeper maritime areas along the Norwegian coast will demand floating and far more robust technology, which will only be fully developed and competitive in 10 to 20 years’ time.