Hydropower Summit 2020

State Secretary Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen gave this speech at the Hydropower Summit 2020 in Trondheim og February 3rd 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends from both Norway and abroad: It is a great pleasure to be a keynote speaker here at the Hydropower Summit.

And also a special welcome to our American friend, Dan Simmons.

This is one of my very first assignments since being appointed State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy just over a week ago.

Before that, I was CEO of a small energy company back in my local community in Nordland County – in the high north of Norway. Nordland is also the "Capitol" of hydropower-production in Norway with an annually production of ca. 17 TwH and an annual surplus of 5-9 TwH.

I am very pleased with the fact that one of my first public appearances is about a subject I know well – namely

I would like to thank HydroCEN for organizing this summit and for their efforts in raising the awarness on hydropower.

Every country is unique, and we have different starting points. There are many factors involved; Geography, geology, resources, good decision-making – and of course; some element of pure luck.

Norway is blessed with abundant natural resources. From around the year 1900, hydropower was the catalyst for our transition from a relative poor agrarian country to a wealthy, industrialized nation.

We built an hydropower industry with several large utilities as well as a supply industry – and also not to forget often with the help of foreign capital. I am pleased that many of these companies are key partners in HydroCEN.

Flexible and renewable hydropower is still what keeps Norway going – it is the battery than energizes our industry, our businesses and our households. Energy in the contact? Are besides water in the tap the most fundemantal thing in everyday life both for people and industry. 

In fact, almost 100 per cent of our electricity consumption is covered by hydropower. About 70(trodde det var enda høyere?) per cent of Norway's total energy consumption is covered by renewable energy, largely thanks to hydropower. This is unique among industrialized nations.

There is a lot of attention around other technologies like offshore wind, solar energy, hydrogen and so on.

But hydropower is still by far biggest supplier of renewable energy – it is the backbone of our energy system. We often take it for grantet and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves both here in Norway and globally.

And if variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, continue to increase, this will require a lot of flexible power generation, to ensure a steady and reliable supply of electricity.

In this context, hydropower with storage capacity, will have an important role to play. It is still the only renewable way of storing large amounts of energy, to balance the increase in variable production. And to be clear: we need to build A LOT of NEW renewable energy in the future years.

Going forward, rehabilitation and modification of exisiting facilities is an important area.

This common challenge is also part of the backdrop for the cooperation with our American friends, that to our joy? will be formalized later today.

Within research and development there is always a lot of buzz about the big tecnological leaps.

But research and technology is also about a stepwise approach, to improve the solutions we are already well aware of and know today.

In this context, hydropower is a proven and well-known Further technology improvements will contribute to hydropower being an even more? cost-effective and competitive technology for future decades.

ENERGY21 is the name of our national strategy for renewable energy research. There, hydropower is one of six main priorities.

This is a reflection of the fact that, even if we have been developing our water resources for more than 100 years, we can still get Gains can still be made.

Efficiency is one important area, environmental protection is another. I am pleased to see that the Summit has both high on the agenda. I am sure everybody in this room agrees with me when I say we have to continue our efforts in R&D.

Last year, the ministry received a study documenting the effects of public financial support for energy research, including hydropower.

The study shows both realized and potential financial effects of energy research, as well as other positive effects like; increased security of supply, more production and reduced emissions.

Put simply: Has the efforts paid off? Yes, it has!

The report is based on case studies, and in the field hydropower we have some interesting examples.

One of them is a project about reducing the risk of turbine breakdown. When this happens it can be extremely costly for the power company and it can limit production for a considerable time.

Another example is about short term planning of hydropower production.

SHOP is a software, developed here in Trondheim by NTNU and SINTEF, that can schedule the production of hydropower in the short term future to ensure the optimal use of water resources.

In total, the study concludes that hydropower research has led to a value creation of seven billion NOK since 2008. The success of the SHOP software is a big part of that result.

These are just a couple of examples. There are many more, and the study is definitely recommended reading.

Our hosts today, HydroCEN, contributed to that study and is one of eight national research centers on environmentally friendly energy known in short as "FME".

The purpose of the FME scheme is to establish research centres that conduct long-term research of high international calibre in order to solve specific challenges in the energy sector. They basically work as our national team within each specific area.

The centers are also very important in terms of recruitment of new students and the training of candidates who will go on to further develop our energy industries.

The former minister, who attended the official opening of HydroCEN three years ago, said that your role is to maintain and strengthen Norway's position as a leading hydropower nation, both at home and abroad.

From what I have learned you are doing a great job achieving that.

Norway has a hydropower industry that is active globally, with utilities like Statkraft and SN Power, as well as technology suppliers and consultants. Cutting-edge technology and know-how are key elements in being competitive.

I believe part of the key to this success is cooperation. The centers bring together a close and binding cooperation between prominent research communities, education and industry. It is like a choir – which is much more than the sum of each voice in the choir.

Most of the centers also have a broad cooperation with international players. This certainly includes HydroCEN and I would like to praise you for your international efforts.

I am pleased to note the presence of important global energy organisations like IEA and IRENA, and welcome their strong focus on hydropower.

The icing of the cake will of course se the signing of the annex to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with our American friends later today. But I also understand that you have cooperation with a number of other international partners.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will summarize briefly.

We need more energy, we need cleaner energy and we need good storage solutions. That is exactly where I believe hydropower will continue to play a key

However – and as I mentioned earlier: Hydropower probably doesnt get the attention it deserves. Neither in the European nor the global discussion on energy and climate.

Inspired by a very famous American, the Director of NTNU Energy, mr. Johan Hustad, said it very elegantly in a blog a couple of years ago. And it is still very much valid today:

We need to make hydropower great again!

 That is a challenge for all of us who care about this fantastic source of energy.

Thank you for your attention!