Arne O. Holm says High North News’ Food Column Recommends: Greenwashed Castles in the Air on the Menu

Castles in the air are an important part of the High North diet. (Photo: Adobe AI)

Commentary: Nutritional advice is in vogue, and High North News is partaking in the trend. Currently, greenwashed castles in the air are recommended as part of the High North diet.

Norsk versjon.

However, as with all diets, the effect is short-lived.

Slimming away the layer of fat around pompous party speeches from mayors and investors on the hunt for public subsidies, is no simple task. For a long time, coloring with the green crayon was enough to evoke rosy cheeks and short-term investors.

Doe-eyed consultants

Add a couple of doe-eyed consultants with letters of recommendation in line with the Book of Genesis, and the castles in the air were devoured quicker than a Greenland Dog empties its food bowl.

In the long term, it turns out that the menu for mayors and councils across the North is not very sustainable, to use a term still dominating the language of those who market castles in the air.

Rosy cheeks and short-term investors.

In stock markets worldwide, green is losing ground to black. Black on the bottom line of an annual report entails profit. Green is a cost that reduces shareholders' dividends. According to investors, the state should foot this bill.

It is about maximizing profits before the globe burns up.

But before it does, a few burials remain.

Most recently, perhaps, in Narvik, Northern Norway.

Insanely good

Few mayors, if any, can compete with a mayor from Narvik doing cartwheels. Like back in 2021, when Rune Edvardsen turned to superlatives to describe his feelings after Aker Horizon, Kjell Inge Røkke's company, announced to the shareholders that it planned to settle in Narvik. The company said it would invest NOK 50 billion (yes, you read that correctly) in green industries on a lot by the ocean in Ballangen, Northern Norway.

"It is insane," said Edvardsen, euphorically.

"Insanely good."

The lot was previously given free of charge to a company supposed to create 3000 new jobs in what once was an independent municipality with 2,500 inhabitants. The gift was handed over under the supervision of the Minister of Climate and Environment at the time, Vidar Helgesen, accompanied by French horns and waving flags.

Letters of recommendation in line with the Book of Genesis

This idea, too, was obviously insane. A battery factory never appeared, and the lot was still empty after an investment company owned by Narvik municipality had to shell out millions to repurchase the free lot.

Finally, it ended up with Aker Horizon with the ambition of 500 jobs, which is also significant in a region lacking labor.

Still deserted

The lot is still deserted, and Aker Horizon was recently sold to an American oil service company. In my opinion, the finance newspaper Dagens Næringsliv delivered a qualified prediction when it wrote that "this is the end of Aker's green enterprise under the Aker Horizon umbrella."

Lately, the same signals have again started to emerge. Recently, Fremover, Narvik's local newspaper, interviewed the finance director at Aker Horizon.

"The green shift has been more difficult than we imagined," he said 14 days before getting a new owner.


This idea was also insane.

The Narvik region has been a magnet for green ambitions. The battery cell producer TECO 2030 promised 500 new jobs. Recently, they lacked funds for salaries for their 60 employees.

At its highest

Freyr added to the High North diet with 2,500 jobs in Mo i Rana when the intake of castles in the air was at its highest. 

In sum, castles in the air have been built for thousands of employees in the North. They now seek refuge in the US, like Freyr And Aker Horizon.

To investors in Aker, it could prove successful. The outlook is worse for Freyr. If Donald Trump wins the election, he promises to move state subsidies from green investments to the oil sector.

Albeit, "worse" is an overstatement. The management and the original shareholders have long since secured their salaries, fees, and dividends to hand over the castle in the air to us so they can move into real castles themselves.

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