1970 - 1992
Environmental protests and controversy
The beginning of the 1970s was a period of transition marked by youth rebellion, the Vietnam War and political conflicts. The 1980s was a time of increasing environmental awareness. Norwegian hydropower development was controversial and generated a great deal of debate.
Stronger market focus and less construction
Around 1980, the state owned about a third of Norway’s installed capacity for electricity generation. New methods to calculate the future value of water stored in reservoirs heralded a trend towards market-based power pricing. A kilowatt became a commercial commodity in itself. However, critical voices protested against the extensive construction of power plants, and new projects became more difficult to implement. Throughout the 1980s, the level of investment in new power production projects dropped dramatically, and it seemed that the Norwegian hydropower boom was nearing its end. There were few waterfalls left to develop, and obtaining permission to harness them was becoming more difficult. Norwegian society could now afford to leave its waterfalls untouched, and increasingly chose to do so. For Statkraft this slowdown happened fairly abruptly, since several major projects were completed almost simultaneously. In 1988, Statkraft put the finishing touches on four construction projects, including Alta in Finnmark and Ulla-Førre in Rogaland.
New energy law and new company
Hydropower development in Norway wound down, and Statkraft entered an era dominated by operations and markets. 1990 proved to be a watershed year. With no prospect of any new large hydropower projects in Norway, it became more important to streamline operations and the power grid to produce electricity when it provided most value. The power markets were deregulated and liberalised. A new energy law in 1990 provided the framework for how power supply in Norway should be organised. The law paved the way for a free energy market and competitive power trading, while power transmission itself remained monopoly-based. With the new law, Norway became a pioneer in the deregulation of power markets, and Statkraft faced a new era as a commercial power company and international player. The Energy Act also led to a reorganisation of Statkraft.