|Fig. 1: Oil and Natural Gas Production versus Consumption in Norway.  (Source: H. Stroheker)|
Norway is the world's third largest exporter of energy, only falling behind Russia and Saudi Arabia.  Internally, the country is a huge consumer of electricity produced primarily by hydropower. Norway has a large potential for production of renewable resources in the future, along with a strategy to change energy policy in this direction.
Norway holds a unique position in Europe, having chosen to abstain from membership within the European Union in 1984, with citizens standing firmly behind this decision in all recent polls. This stance is feasible for the country in part because their large petroleum and natural gas reserves allow them to maintain a high GDP and standard of living without membership. (See Fig. 1.)
The agreement on the European Economic Area names Norway, along with Iceland and Lichtenstein, as equal partners in the internal market of the EU. This agreement is essential to Norway's continued economic success, since 80% of total Norwegian exports go to the EU, and 60% of imports come from countries within the EU. 
The majority of Norway's internal energy use comes from hydropower, which sources around 40% of their internal energy.  Norway has the world's second largest per capita electricity consumption, and electricity accounts for almost 50% of Norway's total energy usage. 
Increasing production of oil and gas, along with increasing automobile usage, led to increased greenhouse gas emissions in Norway up until 2007. Since then, emissions have fallen 6%, mostly due to technological improvements in manufacturing which led to less oil- and gas-fueled operations. 
On April 15, 2016, Norway's government released a White Paper on energy policy extending towards 2030. The government focused on their current competitive advantages with easy, internal access to energy and natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable. They remarked on the importance of a future with higher access to clean, renewable resources. Enova, Norway's national agency for the support of green energy and efficiency, is focusing on wind power as a renewable resource for the future.  They also are seeking to make access to hydropower and other resources more stable, which will ensure the future success of Norway economically and environmentally, in relation to energy.
Because Norway holds a high stake within the field of energy in Europe, it is important that the production of energy in the country remains stable and advances in a positive direction over time. Environmentally, this requires a transition to renewable energy sources for internal electricity, while phasing out or converting nonrenewable sources. Economically, this requires maintaining petroleum and natural gas exports as a backbone to the society. There are many stakes to consider in the progression of energy in relation to Norway, and the country serves a foundational role in developing the future of energy use in Europe and the world.
© Helen Stroheker. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
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 "Kraft til Endrig: Energipolitikken mot 2030," Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, April 2016.
 "BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016," British Petroleum, June 2016.