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NORTHERN LIGHTS

Norway business sees ‘huge opportunity’ in green transition

Three-quarters of the leaders of big Norwegian companies now believe that the transition to a green economy represents a significant business opportunity, a new survey has found.

Norway business sees 'huge opportunity' in green transition
Sverre Overå, project director for Northern Lights, in front of the Northern Lights template. (Photo: Arne Reidar Mortensen)
When the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise polled business leaders ahead of its annual conference next month, 74 percent of those leading companies with more than 100 employees said they saw opportunities in the coming green transformation. 
 
“Carbon capture and storage is one example. You also see investments in batteries, hydrogen and offshore wind,” the lobby group's chief executive, Ole Almlid, told state broadcaster NRK
 
“I hope we end up remembering 2020 as the year when Norwegian business and industry finally properly understood the great opportunities that lie in climate change.” 
 
 
Almlid said that the coronavirus crisis promised to accelerate the shift, with 30 percent of the European Union's €750 billion coronavirus recovery package going towards European Green Deal projects. 
 
“The restructuring will go much faster, because it comes after such a crisis, and then it will go much more in the direction of a greener business community,” he said. 
 
NRK cites the the US aluminium producer Alcoa as a company which could benefit, with Norway well positioned to lead the shift towards zero-carbon aluminium. 
 
“We have two competitive advantages: We often have low prices for electricity, and we produce clean aluminium. We use renewable electricity from water and wind. The rest of the world mostly uses gas and coal,” said Ole Løfsnæs, who leads the confederation's energy department. 
 
Alcoa is working on a revolutionary smelting technology which would use renewable electricity rather than coke. 
 
On December 15th, the Norwegian Government announced its decision to fund the Northern Lights project, which will see 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 stored per year in a depleted gas field in the Northern North Sea. 
 
Across the border in Sweden, big industry is already pushing ahead, with state-owned iron ore producer LKAB planning to invest 400bn Swedish kronor (€40bn) over the next 15–20 years to switch its entire production from iron ore pellets to hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. 
 
This would preventing LKAB’s customers from releasing 35m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. 
 
Together with steel producer SSAB, LKAB aims to set up demonstration plant which by 2026 will produce one million tonnes of zero-carbon sponge iron. 
 

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ENVIRONMENT

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas

Norway will not grant new oil exploration licences in virgin or little-explored areas in 2022 under a political compromise on Monday that hands a modest  victory to opponents of fossil fuels.

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas
A photo taken on August 30, 2021 shows the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, Norway, built to show the history of Norway's oil exploration. Norway is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in Western Europe. In the face of the climate emergency, voices are being raised to abandon fossil fuels for good. Petter BERNTSEN / AFP

The Scandinavian country’s governing centre-left coalition supports continuing oil and gas activities but does not have a parliamentary majority, making it reliant on socialist MPs who prioritise green issues.

As part of a compromise on the draft 2022 budget, three parties agreed on Monday that Norway — Western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer — would not hold a 26th so-called “ordinary” concession round next year.

This mechanism has allowed oil companies to apply for exploration in previously unexplored areas of the Norwegian continental shelf since 1965.

But the deal does not rule out awarding oil licences in already heavily exploited areas.

Since the North Sea has been extensively explored, the agreement mainly concerns the Barents Sea in the Arctic

The oil industry was a major issue in legislative elections in September, indicating Norway’s growing difficulties in reconciling environmental concerns with exploiting energy resources.

In the 25th concession round in early 2021, only seven oil companies, including Equinor, Shell and Lundin, applied — the lowest number since at least 1978 according to local media.

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