When the Center Party politician and farmer Erling Lusæter feared rising electricity prices in the early 2000s, he decided to buy his own wind turbine.
900 meters above sea level at Heidal in Gudbrandsdalen is a lonely wind turbine in the Erling Lusæter courtyard.
For 17 years, the wind turbine has produced electricity for livestock and agriculture, and good. During a typical year, the turbine produces 350,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Lusæter uses only a tenth of it, the rest goes to the power grid of the local power company Eidefoss.
– Today is not so lucrative with the agricultural profession. It takes a lot of effort for little profit, says Lusæter.
The wind turbine provides additional income.
Surrounding him are highland cattle from the 1950s, a thick-coated Scottish curase that grazes in the open year-round. Lusæter was the first to import a large proportion of priests to Norway.
And in 2004 he was one of the first to install a wind turbine on Norwegian soil.
Millions of people
In the early 2000s, there was a situation in which today’s Norwegians can recognize themselves: electricity prices were about to rise.
Lusæter and his family had a lot of electricity consumption due to the farm, and the farmer began to think about what he could do to save money.
He had previously been to Germany and Denmark and was fascinated by the wind turbines he saw there. In 2002, he applied for a permit from the municipality, obtained a loan and purchased an exhibition model from Danish wind energy pioneer Vestas. In 2004, the turbine was installed.
Price: 2.5 million crowns.
– Everything in life is expensive, says Lusæter and laughs when asked if it was an expensive investment.
It has been an investment that has made a lot of money. Over the course of eight years, he paid off the loan.
Wind power helps lower electricity prices: Southern Norway has the most expensive electricity in the Nordic region
Tailwinds and headwinds
Inside the 1750 farmhouse there is furniture with beautiful wood carvings that Lusæter has made himself. With a glass of solo in hand, the farmer recounts the arduous journey it took to start the wind turbine in Heidal.
It wasn’t just a tailwind at the time.
– The villagers were excited about the whole project, but some of the cottage owners around here didn’t like the project very much. They sent protests and got a lawyer to fight the wind turbine, Lusæter says.
The project was postponed after processing the complaint with the county governor. But when the turbine got its own zoning plan, the protests subsided. Since then, Lusæter has found that people have been positive and curious.
Positive for more wind power
Energy consumption in Norway is expected to increase in the coming years. One way to meet the need is to develop more wind power, but opposition to onshore wind has grown in recent years.
Development will likely slow down dramatically in the next few years.
Lusæter can understand that there is resistance to wind power being installed in virgin areas, but he believes that turbines must be able to be installed in uninhabited places.
– When you protest against wind farms that you don’t even see, then I think we are doing too well in Norway, he says, adding that wind turbines can generate jobs and income.
He believes that the authorities have made many mistakes and points out that the model in Denmark, where the local community received income, had also paid off in this country.
– When the money flows into the local community, they can support a wind farm. I think it’s that simple, he says.
Sp-Vedum notifies the electricity price requirements: – It will reduce the electricity tax immediately.
You will see a green change
If electricity consumption increases, Norway may have new periods of high energy prices in dry weather. Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum wants to focus on offshore wind and hydropower upgrading, but does not allow more onshore wind power, although NVE says more wind will be able to curb future electricity prices. .
Lusæter is aware that the world is gradually shifting from oil to renewable.
– It has something to do with realism. Airplanes, trains, ferries and almost all automobile traffic will now be transferred to electrical operation. We must have wind power to produce enough electricity, says Lusæter.
– We could have supplied Europe with all the energy they needed just off the Norwegian coast, he says.
– But the Center Party is not very positive about these cables that must be built to distribute renewable electricity in Europe. what do you think about it?
– I think they are too conservative on that with those cables. You can see now with the cable going to Germany: the wind turbines started blowing there long before the wind came. And then electricity prices fell here. We are not alone in Europe, he says.
Lusæter emphasizes that he is not a supporter of the EU, but that he sees that the EU is good for many things.
– We no longer live from each of our Tuesdays. Cooperation builds trust and we do not produce cars or tractors in Norway, but we can supply energy to do so, he says.
Wind energy is not an issue in the municipality
– Renewable energy is important, says Mayor Eldri Siem in the municipality of Sel to E24 questions on renewable energy and wind energy.
He notes that the development of the Nedre Otta hydroelectric plant, which was completed a year ago, has been important to the municipality. Nedre Otta was one of Norway’s largest hydroelectric projects in 2020, according to NVE.
– The development of wind energy has not been an issue in the municipal council, says Siem.
Will invest more
Lusæter is far from finished investing in renewable energy. Among other things, he wants an all-electric airport in Gudbrandsdalen that can transport tourists to the surrounding national parks and provide jobs inland. He wants aircraft and says he has the only approved anchorage for aircraft in Norway. And he wants more electric cars.
Lusæter also has an older tractor on the farm that he does not intend to replace until he finds one that runs on electricity.
– I asked Felleskjøpet if they can get me an electric tractor. I ask quite often, the last time a month ago, he says.
The storm in Frøya