In order for renewable energy production to be Norway's competitive advantage also in the future, it is important that hydropower retains acceptance among the Norwegian population, both locally and at national level.
Hydropower is part of Norwegian identity
Much of the Norwegian identity is connected to the development of hydropower after the Second World War, which was a locomotive for economic growth. But there have also been conflicts over hydropower development in Norway's history.
Rivers and lakes are an essential part of the living space of the local population and are used for a range of outdoor and recreational activities. People enjoy the beauty of them, and many are aware that they are natural areas with a particularly rich diversity of animals and plants.
Many interests around waterways
There is a wide range of societal interests around watercourses which include, among other things, economic income, energy supply, environmental quality, recreation and landscape aesthetics.
The various interests must be taken into account in the many terms and conditions audits for older concessions that are currently taking place or are pending throughout the country, but also in new hydropower projects. We have examined how the first audits managed to balance these different interests in the SusWater project:
In HydroCen, we have looked at the attitudes and choices of the Norwegian population in relation to hydropower with the help of a survey.
We have also looked at existing research on social acceptance of pumped power à link to book chapter in the Encyclopedia of Energy Storage.
In the project "extended environmental design", we have investigated the recreational activities and the visual preferences of the local population for various mitigation scenarios in a case study in the Nea river (Selbu/Tydal municipalities).
How the various societal interests around the waterways are to be balanced and how to succeed in involving the population in the decision-making processes are very important for future support of hydropower production in Norway.