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Small hydroelectric power station and apple orchards by a Norwegian fjord

Vertiginous cliffs, rushing torrents, thundering waterfalls: the region around Hardanger Fjord is ideal for harnessing the power of water or "blue gold". Ecopower Skandinavia AS does this ecologically and sustainably.

This spring a new small hydroelectric power station, situated in Reisæter and partly held by the Alpiq subsidiary, was connected to the grid. Above the small hamlet by the Sørfjord, a tributary of Hardanger Fjords, flow the rivers Bleieelva and Strutåni. At an altitude of 300 meters above sea level these two rivers collectively generate some 6 GWh of electricity per year before irrigating apple orchards and emptying into the ice-blue fjord.

Around 500 Norwegian households are supplied with energy from Reisæter. The energy is sold on the open market by Alpiq subsidiary Alpiq Norway AS. As a result of careful planning, Reisæter's unique vegetation featuring countless species of moss, juniper, blueberries, birches, alder, foxglove and fly agaric remains intact. Because the catchment area of both rivers is in the middle of a large national park.

Landowners and orchard farmers were also involved from the outset: today they are co-owners of the small hydroelectric power station. Alpiq is consistently expanding its Norwegian hydropower portfolio. Ecopower Skandinavia AS is planning to acquire stakes in more than 20 small hydroelectric power stations in Norway by 2015. Around half of these will be build around Hardanger Fjord. A total of CHF 200 million is being invested in these sustainable projects.