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United States

US Secretary of Energy tours power stations

26 Nov, 2009

Steven Chu visited Western Norway on Saturday, to learn more about Norwegian hydropower technology. The US Secretary of Energy, also a Nobel laureate in physics, was impressed by Statkraft's power plant at Ulla-Førre.

The Secretary, who wants to double the US production of hydropower, was given a lesson on the alternatives to his homeland's energy production, when he saw Statkraft's turbines.
- I'm impressed by Norway. This has been very educational. The US policy on renewable energy is about more than wind power. The energy needs to be stored, and hydropower is the best method, Steven Chu concluded.

Thorough introduction

Steven Chu and his entourage was flown by helicoptre over the beautiful Ryfylke nature, and got to see Norway's largest reservoir, Blåsjø. This is the reservoir that feeds the destination of the trip, the Ulla-Førre plant. Plant manager Bjørn Sandvik wished the Secretary welcome, and showed him Norway's largest Pumped Storage Station in Saurdal, as well as the power station in Kvilldal.

The visit was arranged after Secretary Chu earlier this year said that he wanted to learn more about the use of hydropower in conjunction with other renewable energy sources. And Statkraft's Pumped Storage Station represent a technology that suits the american plans.
- This is a very interesting technology, and it may play an important role in the future, Secretary Chu said to the press.

- An important visit

Norwegian Minister for Petroleum and Energy, Terje Riis-Johansen, also came along on the tour. He was pleased to present Norwegian technology, both the hydropower plant in Ryfylke, and the CCS project at Mongstad.

- Secretary Chu's visit is very important for Norway and Norwegian energy policy, Riis-johansen says. The US is a central partner on both climate and energy issues. It's important to us that the american Secretary of Energy takes this time in Norway to learn more about our carbon capture and storage projects, as well as hydropower.

Huge American potential

Steven Chu has a good reason to visit Statkraft's modern hydropower stations. The US has a huge unexploited potential for hydropower production. According to the American Department of Energy, the country can produce 70 gigawatt, which is about the same as 70 nuclear power stations, or 100 coal fueled power stations.

If the US decides to go for a large development of hydropower stations, this will have a great impact. The country is responsible for 20 per cent of the world's energy use, and 86 per cent of the power comes from oil, coal and gas.
- We want to switch to renewable energy, and preferrably solar power, Secretary Chu says. - But the technology to capture solar power is not here yet, and that is why hydropower is so important.

By Hanna Maria van Zijp Nilsen