Saturday, May 21

Promises that the industrial plan will not be a glossy brochure: – Now it’s action

Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre (Labor Party) makes a plan for new Norwegian industrial adventures, and promises «action». – We are working in high gear, he says.

Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre (Labor Party).

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The Minister has invited E24 to his office in Kongens gate to talk about the great industrial promise he is planning.

Vestre will make a plan for a comprehensive green industrialization of Norway, on behalf of the Prime Minister. It will unite the various ministries and instruments, such as Enova, Eksfin and Innovation Norway, and accelerate the green shift.

– This is a wake-up call. We will make the biggest change in the Norwegian economy ever, and it is urgent to get started, says Vestre.

He wants to look up after a winter with a dramatic electricity price crisis and more corona crisis, which has required a power package for around 13 billion and new corona grips around 20 billion.

– Out of the seminar rooms

Going forward, Norway has some very demanding climate goals to achieve, and the government believes that new export-oriented jobs are needed. according to the report «Norway towards 2025» the oil industry could lose 4,000-6,000 jobs annually between 2025 and 2050.

– The demand for oil and gas will eventually fall, and we must be prepared for it to happen faster than we think. Prices for renewables are changing, and the EU is serious about the goal of decarbonising its markets by 2050. Then it is urgent to increase activity, especially in mainland Norway, says Vestre.

– That is why the Prime Minister has given an assignment to the Ministry of Trade and Industry to coordinate our efforts for green industrial lifts, he says.

This is today spread across many ministries, instruments and programs.

– In order to accelerate and get out of the seminar rooms and into the construction and reindustrialization of Norway with green technology, we must work differently. This is an innovation, says the Minister of Trade and Industry.

– Now it’s action

A very high stack of climate plans has been built up in recent decades, such as Roadmap for green competitiveness and Klimakur. But Norwegian emissions are not far from where they were in 1990. Now Vestre will cut emissions by 55 percent in eight years and at the same time create lots of new jobs.

The Minister of Trade and Industry talks about green industry. Batteries. Offshore wind. Capture and storage of CO₂. Hydrogen. Green shipping. Forest and bioeconomy. The world’s greenest process industry.

– We are working in high gear, and during the spring we will present the plan for the major industrial journey, says Vestre.

– I do not intend to make a great brochure with glossy pictures that do not really say anything. We have plenty of that in this country. Now it’s action, he says.

The Hurdal platform does not quantify any specific measure of, for example, offshore wind or hydrogen. Vestre can not say whether there will be specific targets for how many gigawatts of offshore wind Norway will develop in the long term, but says that the government is working on specific targets for green and blue hydrogen.

– A lot happens here

Storting representative Nikolai Astrup (H) is not so impressed that there will be a new road map. He believes that the previous government did far more than hold seminars.

– The fact is that a lot happens here, says Astrup to E24.

He points to Statnett’s analyzes of power consumption up to 2026, which show a sharp increase in electricity demand. The estimate is based on very specific applications from battery factories and hydrogen projects such as Yara on Herøya or in Hammerfest, Astrup points out.

– There has never been greater activity in new industrial projects than in recent years. There are concrete projects around the coast that are now looking for more power, and we see this in the capital markets where there has been a new record in the number of new IPOs and many new investments. We have never had such an offensive instrument apparatus as the one we left to the red-greens, says Astrup.

Storting representative Nikolai Astrup (H).

– Goes way too slow

Vestre believes that the restructuring has been too slow. Among other things, he highlights Norway’s opportunities in hydrogen and floating offshore wind.

Already in 2009, Equinor had a floating offshore wind turbine in the water, but only now is a project being developed with another 13 turbines at Hywind Tampen. Norway also does not have any large-scale production or export of hydrogen yet, the Minister points out.

– It goes too slowly, says Vestre.

He acknowledges that climate measures such as electrification of the shelf and investment in power-intensive export industries can lead to higher electricity prices if more power is not developed.

– But then we get to develop more power, then. We can solve this if we want, he says.

– What happens if we do not expand our power and invest in these industries?

– I do not think we should get there. We can hope that this only resolves itself, and that new jobs pop up by themselves. It’s a risky sport. It is better for Norway as a nation to go into this with a plan for restructuring, says Vestre.

Sam Eyde had twisted in the grave

Norway’s neighboring countries have big plans for new power to cover increasing power needs. Sweden steers towards 100 TWh of wind power, Denmark will develop an energy island with 40 TWh of offshore wind, and Scotland recently handed out licenses that can provide perhaps 100 TWh of offshore wind.

– We are all a little surprised that the industrial nation Norway, which is founded on clean and affordable energy, is now in a situation where we risk losing large industrial establishments because we do not get the power to the right time and place. Sam Eyde would have twisted in the grave five rounds if he had heard it there, says Vestre.

He believes the potential for upgrading hydropower is somewhat limited, and acknowledges that onshore wind power is controversial.

– Then I think the answer is quite obvious, it is the sea. There we have an enormous potential, especially for floating wind power, he says.

– Floating offshore wind is three times as expensive and bottom-fixed twice as expensive as a normal Norwegian electricity price of 30 øre per kilowatt hour. If you look at it economically, is onshore wind power the answer, while offshore wind must be subsidized?

– I feel very confident that it will be more than competitive, says Vestre.

– But not in 2030?

– It depends on which model you choose for the development, and what level of ambition you have on pace. According to the previous government’s energy report, we will start with floating offshore wind in 2030-2031 at the earliest, but I know that the Minister of Petroleum and Energy has a plan for us to be up and running during the 2020s, he says.

State ownership

The Conservatives and the Labor Party agree that more power, networks, climate cuts and new export-oriented jobs are needed. An important difference between the two parties is the view of the state’s role in the green shift.

– In the previous government’s platform, it was a goal in itself to reduce state ownership. Then you put great limitations on yourself. We do not have such formulations, but are willing to use all the tools that are needed, says Vestre.

Among other things, he is willing to look at whether Statkraft’s mandate should be changed in connection with specific projects, or whether state-owned companies should be provided with capital, or to establish a new state-owned company within, for example, hydrogen.

– But it should not displace private initiatives, he says.

– I also want to be very concerned that when the community invests, it should have its rightful share back. When we reduce risk, we want to be very clear about what we want back as a society. That is how we did it in the oil industry when we set the framework for the oil and gas adventure, says Vestre.

And when the road map comes, according to Vestre, it’s time to stop talking and start building.

– That is what we put the race for in the roadmap, or the big plan for green industrial travel in Norway, he says.

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