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Energy conservation measures in Northern Europe


January 21, 2003

Norwegian civil servants will be turning down the thermostats in their offices, turning off hall lights and dimming public road lighting in response to the first real energy crisis in the world's second richest industrialized nation, much of whose wealth comes from huge oil and gas reserves as well as major hydroelectric resources. Norway, like its Nordic neighbors, is trying to reduce energy consumption. Sweden cut back energy-hungry industrial production, and even the Finns are being asked to use their saunas a little less.

Northern Europe is in the throes of one of its coldest winters in more than a decade (-30°C), and not much help is to be expected from hydropower, with already low water supplies expected to remain so until the snow melts.

Electric rates have soared, with residential electric bills double or triple what they were last year, raising questions about deregulation. The debate is open on the need for new energy sources and what it will take to find them, and another look is being given to nuclear power.