Did you know that some of the world’s first hydropower plants were built in Arctic Norway? In Senja, an island in Northern Norway, a hydropower plant was commissioned in 1882 to power up local nickel production. This was actually the first hydropower plant in Europe, and the world’s second, completed just a couple of months after Thomas Alva Edison constructed the world’s first in Wisconsin, US. In 1891 Hammerfest, a town at a latitude of just over 70 degrees north, became the first Norwegian city with electric lighting powered by a hydropower plant. Oslo, the capital of Norway, got its electric street lamps a year later, powered with coal
Today, Norway’s hydro- and windpower comprises 98 % of total energy production. This Arctic country has the most extensive wind and hydropower power development in Europe and is in the top ten globally.
Northern Norway is the home base for one of the oldest energy companies in the country, Troms Kraft, with over 120 years of history.
AEC Advisor Irina Zhilina talked to Stein Gunnar Bondevik, Executive VP Public Relations at Troms Kraft, about the company’s perspective on the future of the Arctic Region and discussed some of the current projects the company is running to facilitate sustainable development locally.
Sustainable development in the Arctic
“I believe that the Arctic is a key region in terms of new energy production. Wind as energy source will be needed and become increasingly important. There is a growing tendency to look at the Arctic as a natural reserve, as a last outpost and the last wilderness. I think this view needs to be modified. There are people here as well. We certainly want to preserve our nature and preserve our environment, but we also want to use it to create jobs, value and improve living conditions. Our task is to do this job in such a way that it can bring progress and welfare indefinitely,” says Mr. Bondevik.
Electricity consumption in Norway
In the years to come, Norwegian domestic electricity consumption is expected to increase. There are several reasons for that, such as the construction of battery factories, electrification of the oil and gas extraction facilities, and production of hydrogen and associated green fuels, such as ammonia and methanol.
“Maritime and long-haul transportation will be hydrogen-based. That is the view of the European Union. Also, Norway has released a hydrogen strategy, according to which there will be several hydrogen hubs with large-scale production and distribution system around them,” says Mr. Bondevik.
Maritime hub in Tromsø
Tromsø, a home base of Troms Kraft, is also a logistical hub for land-based transportation and one of the busiest ports in Norway, with more than eight thousand annual calls. Here Troms Kraft will develop a project on hydrogen production that could be converted into green fuels for the maritime sector and long-haul transportation. Already now Troms Kraft has set up a partnership with the port of Tromsø to provide a green power supply to the vessels moored at the harbour.
“For this shift to take place, the government needs to be there as a guarantor and as a financial supporter of new technology, setting up the infrastructure. I think the main challenge to be visionary enough, to understand that we need to build the infrastructure so that there is a pathway laid out for further investments by private entities. . We need a well-established understanding between business and infrastructure providers that this is the way we are going,” says Mr. Bondevik.
Investment fund in Northern Norway
In 2021 Troms Kraft partnered up with other major energy companies in Northern Norway, such as Varanger Kraft, Salten Kraftsamband, and Bodø Energi to support a government initiative for the establishment of a semi-private investment fund for the Northern region.
“Our goal is to set up a fund close to a billion NOK and also contribute to building further financial competence in The North. This fund will support existing and new companies based in Northern Norway that provide green solutions. As a publicly-owned company, we need to contribute to regional development, but we have a clear business interest, too. As power companies, we need activity. We need companies here that use our electricity for new products and bring them to the world markets,” says Mr. Bondevik.
- Stein Gunnar Bondevik works as EVP Public Relations at Troms Kraft. He also serves as a Vice-Chair at the AEC Executive Committee.
- Troms Kraft is a publicly owned power company in Tromsø, Northern Norway, that produces, distributes, and sells electricity from renewable energy sources. Troms Kraft owns ten hydropower stations and one wind power park, with a total production of about 1,2 TWh annually. Troms Kraft has been an AEC member since 2021.