The potential trade-off between greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and nature protection is clearly seen in policies aimed to promote renewable energy. This project focuses on how this trade-off is treated in Norwegian windpower development.

The project will examine all windpower licenses given and rejected in Norway to identify how nature protection concerns and the cumulative effects of several plants, extensive new access roads and grid connections have been treated. This examination of aggregate trends will form the basis for further analysis.

What determines ultimate responses by the licensing authority to this trade-off? We will first examine the extent to which relevant Norwegian policies and regulatory frameworks have been affected by the EU and European and international environmental treaties. Sweden, as an EU member state, will be analysed as a contrast case.

Next, an in-depth examination of central Norwegian government and agencies will look for explanations at the central government level. This examination will be supplemented by case studies and comparisons across regions in Norway that are typical high-pressure areas. These studies will focus on regional and local factors that influence the integration of nature protection concerns in windpower licenses, specifically how cumulative effects of new windpower projects are addressed at these levels.

Finally, we will examine how legal frameworks and licensing processes more effectively can take into account the cumulative effects of windpower projects. Ultimately, the project seeks to understand whether and how the political objectives of windpower development and nature protection in Norway can be combined, particularly in regions under high pressure from human activities.

Project period: 2016-2021



  • Research Council of Norway (MILJØFORSK Programme)