In an interview in today's Dagsavisen newspaper, Christian Rynning-Tønnesen says that new power production seems to have become an end in itself, and that although gas power is promising, "there is no law of nature that it must be built in Norway". He adds. "Combined with a strong stepping-up of heat pump installations, Norway can cope with increasing energy consumption by development of wind and hydropower alone".
As Statkraft is one of three owners of Naturkraft, the consortium licensed to build the gas power stations, the remarks have provoked a minor sensation, including jubilant reactions from some environmentalists opposed to the gas project.
However, Mr Rynning-Tønnesen stresses that he is not proposing its abandonment. "Statkraft wants to choose the most profitable forms of power production. Gas power is basically a very efficient and profitable way of generating electricity."
According to the GRIP centre, a government foundation for promoting sustainability, only 25,000 heat pumps are installed in Norway, as against 300,000 in neighbouring Sweden. Mr Rynning-Tønnesen reckons that more widespread use of the technology could cut Norwegian energy consumption by up to one-third.
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