Energy security used to be about uninterrupted flows of affordable and available resources. This article argues that it is much more than that. By taking a historically informed social science approach to energy politics, the article includes issues pertaining to national independence, identity, future aspirations, and the role of technology and natural resources.
In Norway, the relation to oil and gas is so deeply ingrained in what it means to be a proud and independent Norwegian state, that given up drilling for oil nearly means giving up the idea of the nation. At the same time, the Norwegian identity is so closely tied to the natural resource of hydropower that any attempt of integration of electrical grids with continental Europe meets fundamental critique and risks failure. These issues are closely tied to the historical process leading to independence from Denmark and Sweden.
In conflict-ridden Ukraine obtaining energy security means attaining sovereignty and dignity after centuries of foreign reign. With a total natural gas dependency on Russia, day-to-day negotiations of reverse gas flows with neighbours become fundamental to upholding identity and trust in the future of the state. And building a new renewable alternative means much more than securing energy supply. It means building a strong nation in charge of its own destiny.
This article seeks to develop a model for tying issues of identity together with energy visions and day to day energy politics. By filtering through historical and current sources, the article argues that energy needs to be approached in a new way. If we miss the deeper and more stabilized parts of the energy story central drivers behind current climate and energy politics in the two countries are lost. The article will be of interest to energy analysts, academic researchers, people interested in Norwegian and Ukrainian affairs, and students.