Statkraft SF, Norway’s largest producer of hydroelectric power yesterday gained approval to build a wind farm consisting of 50 wind turbines on the west coast island of Hitra. The state-owned utility was given the go-ahead by the Norwegian Environment Ministry despite objections from some residents in the area.

The environment ministry said that Statkraft’s plan would not be a detriment to the local environment. “The Environment Ministry sees it as very important to get started with the realisation of projects that can contribute to using new renewable energy sources,” it said.

The ministry said that it advocated the development of renewable energy sources and would only object if they led to a direct loss of biological diversity or destroyed cultural heritages.

Norway has an increasing demand for electricity and already has the distinction of being the world’s highest per capita consumer of electricity. With 99 per cent of power coming from hydro sources, where output can vary significantly, Norway has since 1996 become a net importer of electricity -mostly from Sweden and Denmark. The country is now taking steps to diversify its generation mix

Statkraft owns 33.4 TWh or 30 per cent of Norway’s electric power production capacity. In addition to 91 hydropower plants it owns 55 reservoirs, which is about 40 per cent of Norway’s total reservoir capacity.