After large-scale international diplomatic effort, the UN's 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming was finally rescued in July 2001 at the Bonn summit, committing the world's countries to reducing their greenhouse emissions by 2010. But the agreement only outlines what these countries must do, not how they can actually do it. The real key to achieving this goal lies in the development and marketing of new technologies for alternative, emission-free sources of energy.
With over 99% of its domestic energy supply coming from hydropower, an entirely renewable energy source with no CO2 emissions, Norwegian companies know all about producing clean energy. Norwegian construction and consultancy expertise in designing, building and managing hydropower stations has been utilized all over the world. In addition, Norwegian research institutes and companies - backed in part by government funding - are actively experimenting with a range of alternative energy resources. Successes such as the world's first wave-powered electricity plant and the commercialization of a combined wind-diesel power plant concept are encouraging.
Energy from Waste
With the population of Western Europe alone producing 200 million tonnes of combustible waste every year, the waste-to-energy industry represents considerable growth potential. Energos ASA and Organic Power ASA both produce virtually emission-free and highly versatile waste-to-energy plants, which can be located close to the waste sources or the energy user. Utilizing a unique gasification process, Organic Power ASA has developed the smallest available waste-to-energy plants that satisfy the EU's strict emission requirements. The company's plants work with almost any kind of fuel and are available in different sizes, according to customer needs.
New Under the Sun
Similarly, solar energy systems have almost unlimited growth potential, and solar energy components and systems are the focus of international attention. The Norwegian company ScanWafer AS projects an output of 40 million dm2 wafers in 2001, making it one of the world's largest producers of multi-crystalline silicone wafers. Solar energy also provides energy solutions for the developing world, where electrical infrastructure is poorly developed. Two billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. SolEnergy AS develops and manages modular PV energy plants and solar utility and distribution companies in selected developing countries in collaboration with local partners.
A Glimpse into the Future
Some people believe that hydrogen is the only energy carrier that can save the world from an environmental catastrophe. Hydrogen is the cleanest fuel currently used: it produces zero emissions, is absolutely safe for the environment and can be produced from water, a renewable resource. Norway's Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) has sought a patent for a method to produce hydrogen from natural gas that does not require the expensive CO2 cleaning process. Although much research and development work is still needed for this method to be affordable, it is an indicator of the future's decentralized energy stations.