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Daily Archives: 9. November 2018 − News & Stories


Ener­gy and hea­ting in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: hea­ting like hell

Ener­gy con­sump­ti­on in Lon­gye­ar­by­en is high abo­ve the average in main­land Nor­way.

Hea­ting is pro­vi­ded in Lon­gye­ar­by­en by long-distance hea­ting from the coal power plant, and the locals are generous when using this pre­cious resour­ce. The rea­son is not only the cold cli­ma­te, which in fact is not even that much col­der in the mari­ti­me cli­ma­te of Spits­ber­gen com­pa­red to con­ti­nen­tal parts of Scan­di­na­via. Bad insu­la­ti­on of buil­dings is amongst the main rea­sons. Lon­gye­ar­by­en was a mining sett­le­ment for much of its histo­ry and the buil­dings were ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded for use during shor­ter peri­ods only rather than by a more or less per­ma­nent local popu­la­ti­on. This is reflec­ted by cheap and simp­le con­struc­tion methods whe­re insu­la­ti­on was obvious­ly not a prio­ri­ty. Many buil­dings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en date back to years befo­re 1970, and Nor­we­gi­an buil­ding regu­la­ti­ons did not come into for­ce in Spits­ber­gen befo­re 2012. Buil­ding qua­li­ty may be chan­ging qui­te quick­ly now, as many older houses have to be aban­do­ned due to avalan­che risks and a lot of houses will be built in the years to come.

Addi­tio­nal­ly, the ener­gy con­sump­ti­on and hea­ting habits of many locals are not exact­ly cha­rac­te­ri­zed by ambi­tious ener­gy-saving. Some are said to open the win­dow rather than turn the hea­ting down. Ther­mo­stats are the excep­ti­on rather than the rule. Hea­ting cos­ts are based on living space rather than actu­al con­sump­ti­on. And many live in flats pro­vi­ded by their employ­ers, who also covers the run­ning cos­ts.

Energy and heating in Longyearbyen

Hea­ting in Spits­ber­gen: lar­ge oven, poor insu­la­ti­on.

Many inha­bi­tants con­si­der Lon­gye­ar­by­en and their own life and habits as envi­ron­ment­al­ly friend­ly, but rea­li­ty may be dif­fe­rent, loo­king at electri­ci­ty use, hea­ting and traf­fic habits. If peop­le in Lon­gye­ar­by­en were hea­ting as peop­le in main­land Nor­way do, ener­gy con­sump­ti­on rela­ted to hea­ting would drop by about 40 %. In win­ter, the poten­ti­al to save ener­gy is even hig­her, as repor­ted in an arti­cle in Teknisk Uke­b­lad.

Also regar­ding electri­ci­ty, matching local habits to main­land man­ners would redu­ce the con­sump­ti­on quick­ly by 15 %. Pas­si­ve houses would incre­a­se the reduc­tion to an impres­si­ve 25 %.

The next years may bring impro­ve­ment due to the high cur­rent con­struc­tion acti­vi­ties. Tech­ni­cal pos­si­bi­li­ties to impro­ve insu­la­ti­on of exis­ting houses are also work in pro­gress.

So is the pri­ma­ry ener­gy pro­duc­tion in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The only thing that is clear is that the cur­rent coal power plant will not be the long-term solu­ti­on, but nobo­dy knows what is to come then. Many opti­ons have been dis­cus­sed over many years, inclu­ding a new coal power plant, gas, pos­si­b­ly com­bi­ned with rene­wa­ble ener­gy (wind? Solar power? ..?) and even a cable to the main­land. A decisi­on has not yet been made.

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