Norway’s Power Surplus Disappearing Rapidly


By Paul Homewood

This small note appeared on the Energy Market Price website today:


Norway’s power production surplus is expected to fall significantly by 2026, with the south of the country moving into deficit owing to rapidly increasing demand, power grid operator Statnett said on Friday.

Power demand in Norway is expected to grow to 158 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2026, up by 19 TWh from current levels, driven by demand from offshore oil and gas platforms and new onshore consumers, such as data centres, Statnett said in its latest market analysis.

The biggest increase is expected in the southern part of the country, where the most of Norway’s power-intensive industries are located, along with new projects such as electrification of the Johan Sverdrup and surrounding offshore fields.

It is surprisingly understated for something with huge ramifications for the stability of the European power grid.

We know of course that Denmark is already heavily reliant on Norway for balancing its grid, taking surplus power when wind power is abundant, and returning it when it is short.

Germany too is becoming increasingly dependent on Norway, for similar reasons.

However, as coal and nuclear power is increasingly shut down, many countries are looking at Norway to fill the gap when renewable power is not performing.

Virtually all of Norway’s electricity comes from hydro, and last year total generation amounted to 154 TWh. According to this latest report, demand in Norway will rise from 139 to 158 TWh by 2026.

In other words, the surplus that Norway has traditionally had in the past is going to disappear.

The report mentions incresing demand from industry and oil production, but as Bloomberg reported earlier this year, demand is also rising rapidly because of electric cars and heat pumps, both of which will continue to grow:

And when southern Norway is short of power, will the country carry on exporting electricity to the rest of Europe?

Don’t hold your breath!

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December 13, 2021 10:31 pm

Interesting if you watch the grid in the UK. It got a North Sea link to Norway a couple of months ago. The UK imports a steady 0.69 GW from Norway nothing more nothing less even though that link I think can take up to 1.6 GW. It is really odd like it’s being used for baseload. There is no load following whatsoever.

Reply to  Joel
December 13, 2021 11:19 pm

And Griff and his cohorts seem to think we can just use unreliable electricity to power the UK

Screenshot 2021-12-14 071723.jpg
Reply to  Redge
December 14, 2021 12:42 am

Yes, but then I’m going on the opinion of the UK electricity industry and National Grid, not making it up…

alastair gray
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 12:57 am

But they are making it up. You don’t have to listen to other people’s fairy tales when you can do the sums yourself see below. Thats what humans do Take noone’s word for it if you can check it yourself

Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 1:12 am

Are you calling me a liar, Griff?

The above image is readily available for everyone to verify for themselves at IAmKate unlike any of your claims

Go on, give us a link so we can verify your claims

I won’t hold my CO2

Reply to  Redge
December 14, 2021 8:24 am

It’s OK to exhale our CO2.

It’s letting out our methane that causes discomfort (for others).

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 5:25 am

It’s going to get cold where you are, Griff. I hope that national grid of yours holds up.

Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 6:14 am

That 8.5% of biomass is largely from trees cut down in the US and shipped to the UK by boat.

Eamon Butler
Reply to  griff
December 16, 2021 4:03 pm

Yep. They just make it up for you.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Redge
December 14, 2021 4:08 am

biomass at 8.5%- that could grow- and it’s base load- and reliable- and emits that good stuff, plant food!

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 14, 2021 10:43 pm

What a waste though, hauling that biomass from over the Atlantic in bunker oil powered ships to burn it in inefficient burners. Drax is right near a coal mine and coal plants are much more efficient. Trees – leave them in the ground!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  PCman999
December 15, 2021 3:48 am

But…. the trees will NOT be left in the ground. Those forests are intensily managed and will be regardless of the biomass market. The forests ARE NOT clear cut for chips. Some of you JUST CAN’T GRASP THAT. If the biomass market doesn’t exist, those same trees will be cut, piled up and burned right there, outdoors, and result in real air pollution. Maybe those bunker powered ships should be powered by the chips. I’m not saying it’s better for Drax to burn chips than coal- if the your ignorant government doesn’t allow the use of coal, wood chips is an alternative- better than many thousand more acres of land covered with solar panels. I like coal- in my last home I had a stove that burned small chips of coal- it heated the entire house and it was less expensive than fuel oil.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel
December 13, 2021 11:58 pm

Those undersea interconnects are always HVDC so that the source country is isolated from blackouts and AC grid instability in the receiving country. So ‘load-following’ is a bit of a misnomer. Norway can export more HVDC, but when it reaches its limit, it pulls back and the receiving country may go dark.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 14, 2021 7:31 am

The links from the continent usually pump up their output during the afternoon hump in the UK. So, in that sense they do seem to load follow.
Another observation I have made is that at night, with a lot of wind, the UK seems to prefer to burn NG rather than import the maximum from the continent. I have rarely seen less than 40% thermal power and hydropower on the English grid. I am guessing that is to maintain the frequency in a tight range. Same ratio seems hold in Texas.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 10:19 am

It’s a grid stability issue in two parts. Gas and other conventional generators provide inertia that is essential to keeping the grid stable. Also, if you suddenly lose an interconnector (and they do drop out with alarming frequency, even if mostly only for minutes or hours, rather than the major events that knock them out for months, like the fire at Sellindge, valve problems at Blyth or undersea cable damage), and you are already low on inertia because you’ve allowed lots of interconnector capacity instead of running your own plant you will really struggle to avoid a big frequency dip that risks load shedding.

Another factor can be pricing: when there is a lot of wind prices do actually (even now) sometimes fall toward zero or even below. Not much attraction in exporting to the UK at low prices, and possibly even a desire to import if there is a surplus that otherwise would be curtailed and it doesn’t mess up the continental grid to handle it.

Chris Hogg
Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 12:02 am

The UK-Norway link is running at half power at the moment, while the engineers test it out. No doubt it will increase to 1.4GW in a few months time if the engineers are happy that it’s all working OK, if Norway has the power available and if the UK needs it.

Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 12:41 am

I am not sure that it isn’t still in the test phase, which might account for that…

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 6:39 am

OK, knee-jerk downvoting on a very neutral comment is just not called for.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
December 14, 2021 9:05 am

The problem is that griff often makes a statement as though it’s a fact that turns out to be a bald-faced lie so when he says he’s not sure he really can’t be trusted.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  meab
December 17, 2021 1:32 pm

I’m sorry meab, that’s a very weak excuse, and I don’t buy it.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 10:21 am

No, commissioning ended some weeks back. But they do have a problem with the Blyth HVDC converter station that will take until mid February before they have the spare parts to install to fix it.

Welsh Dragon
Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 1:29 am

I hate to think how much the link cost with associated infrastructure (HVDC converter stations). But the thing has to earn its keep so will be allocated some base load function I suggest in the connection agreement, with the remaining capacity being dispatched when those highly intermittent feel goods stop spinning. (I am just speculating here, but have some insight being in the electrical transmission industry).

On another note, it concerns me as to how much motivation many wind farm operators will have when wind turbines reach end of life to properly decommission them. They are being installed at a huge rate, and government can’t see beyond the next election!

Reply to  Welsh Dragon
December 14, 2021 4:22 am

All that buried concrete 🙁

Reply to  Welsh Dragon
December 14, 2021 5:54 am

Companies in the USA are often supposed to build an account with restoration monies in it. These accounts always seem to get underfunded or raided at some point. Or inflation hits, costs soar, and the money is now insufficient. Either way…

Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 6:12 am

Yet the French inter-connector is all over the place, Never seen it like that before.

Reply to  Rusty
December 14, 2021 7:13 am

From what I have read, France still has some nuclear reactors offline for maintenance and are thus short of electricity. So, they are buying from the UK. Another poster said the UK was essentially serving as a route from Belgium to France. This is why the greens are always looking to expand their areas of control. It makes it easier to cover up incompetence and kicks the can down the road. Just like the guy who buys some real estate with a bank loan, then uses that real estate as collateral to buy more real estate. Wash and repeat. You can grow into a real estate baron and be essentially broke. It helps if you own the bank. (See the White Water scandal.)
Right now, Green Europe has become dependent on non-Green Russia and its non-Green EU members for its energy. The solution is to become more Green.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Rusty
December 14, 2021 10:27 am

IFA2 also developed a problem that has knocked it out today at 14:19 GMT

That is of course on top of the problem with IFA1 due to the Sellindge fire that has halved its capacity from 2GW to 1GW. They claim they will fix IFA2 by the end of tomorrow.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Joel
December 14, 2021 10:09 am

The Norwegians decided to limit export to 700MW after the initial testing period during which the line was tested to 1.4GW in both directions, including exporting from the UK at 1.4GW at a time of high prices and power shortages in the UK. Originally, part of the reason was that Norwegian hydro reservoir levels were unduly low for the time of year, and they were threatened with power shortages over the winter if they exported too much. Some late snowmelt alleviated the situation a little. You can see that in the charts of reservoir levels here:

However, restricting the flow means that Norwegians aren’t forced to bid full UK shortage prices to keep power for themselves when it gets cold. They’ve recently had some temperatures below 0F. The restriction was originally in place until end October. However, a fault with thyristor valves at the UK converter station has cut capacity since 12th November and is expected to continue through 14th February.

jacques serge Lemiere
December 13, 2021 11:11 pm

sorry but what about price.? .if you produce electricity.. without any political mandate you have no reason but best price to chose to whom you sell your stuff..

jacques serge Lemiere
Reply to  jacques serge Lemiere
December 13, 2021 11:15 pm

producers are not directly interested in stability of the grid but profit..

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  jacques serge Lemiere
December 14, 2021 12:06 am

it’s called a “contract.” One party agrees to sell another party a goods or service at a specified price over a specified duration. That’s how capitalist free-enterprise markets work in 90% of the time.
While some of the profit comes from spot market sales and quick ramp ups of inefficient generators off-line, the real money comes from long-term stable buyer-seller relationships of selling electricity at a specified price over a specified period. Everyone can plan to that then. Weather of extreme cold, heat, and high winds are now possible with decent Wx forecasts 7 days out to plan contingencies about 1 week out.
Government needs to stay the hell out of that, except for courts enforcing contractual obligations.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
Ron Long
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 14, 2021 2:02 am

The problem with enforcing contracts when the supply/delivery agreement cannot be met is bankruptcy. There is a looming problem in several countries where Net Zero ideas have compromised dependable supply/delivery capability. Even this winter we may see some people be shocked to discover that electricity isn’t something that lives in walls and comes out, on demand, through outlets.

Reply to  jacques serge Lemiere
December 13, 2021 11:20 pm

without any political mandate you have no reason 

The fact that Statnett is state owned suggests it is already mandated to serve Norway first.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  RickWill
December 14, 2021 10:33 am

Indeed it is. Norway has always tried to ensure energy security for itself (hydro can’t always be relied on, and there have been many years when they needed to import to top up), but also to try to use electricity trading for the advantage of Norway and Norwegians. It hasn’t always worked out quite as they envisioned though. Present structural European power shortages threaten Norway with importing high prices for themselves, which given that they heat by electricity on the assumption it’s cheap hydro, and it gets really cold, and increasingly they depend on EVs too is looking likely a costly outcome. They long for the days of surplus wind at negative prices which can allow them to cut their own generation.

alastair gray
December 13, 2021 11:22 pm

Norway produces 158 Terawatt hrs of energy per year. This is equivalent to a power output 24/7 of 18 GW. Norway’s population is 5.4 million The UK is 67 million.
If the UK were electrified to the same extent as Norway is today using only wind power we would need 223 GW of produced Wind turbinery. That at a capacity factor of 40% would require an installed capacity of 560 GW. That takes no account of intermittency. If you have a storage medium of 50% efficiency you could multiply that by 4 to lay by enough energy for when the wind wont blow. It is a pity that Johnson, Kwarteng and the jolly boys and girls at the Committee for Climate Change can not or will not do basic arithmetic.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  alastair gray
December 14, 2021 12:14 am

They’ve been told those numbers. They ignore them and whistle on-wards like a village knave about to be shocked by reality and can’t understand how the bad things happen when they do. They’ll blame someone else. It’s all a game to them. The know enough people are ignorant enough about what is really happening for them to get away with the deceptions.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
alastair gray
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
December 14, 2021 12:58 am

Not village knave – Village idiot

Reply to  alastair gray
December 14, 2021 1:55 am

I suggest knave is more appropriate. They practice intentional deception at ever turn.

Reply to  AndyHce
December 14, 2021 3:28 pm

Yes, as I read elsewhere: a Knave knows better but does it anyway while those that don’t know better (like most citizens getting their info from the MSM) are Dupes.

December 13, 2021 11:25 pm

The price of electricity is so high that the Norwegians will get a discount this year.
The connection to the continent has a bad influence of the prices in Sweden also.
We pay market price influenced by high gas prices due to the German-Russian connection Northstreem II and the reluctance to open the valves.
But we have export of electricity from Sweden-so why the high prices?
Something is Rotten in the kingdom of Sweden.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Lasse
December 14, 2021 10:48 am

You’re right that the direct connection to Germany linked Southern Norwegian prices to the Continent. See this chart:

I can recommend the analyses by P-F Bach of the Scandinavian electricity markets. This briefing note explains the essential background this year, at least until gas prices went to the moon:

and this one deals more specifically with Sweden’s problems:

December 14, 2021 12:40 am

An absolute disaster in the making and idiotic EU political hacks are doing all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons to address the coming energy shortage catastrophe…

Well, at least the EU will economically and socially collapse with a lower carbon footprint, so at least they got that goin’ for them….

December 14, 2021 1:49 am

Nah this is tots fine.

You just need to stop doing this overall or holistic thinking and instead concentrate on one little bit at a time. Germany and Denmark would never ever try to draw power at the same time…………

December 14, 2021 1:51 am

I’d just like to underline the fact that Norwegians mostly use electricity to heat their homes during the winter.

We cannot simply turn the supply off at the meter to save bucks.

Fire up the nukes.

Reply to  michel
December 14, 2021 6:03 am

Good article. All they would’ve had to do was to read a few of the related articles published here and they could’ve seen it all in advance.

michael hart
December 14, 2021 3:15 am

Even if it was politically possible, I wonder what is the maximum hydro-electric power backup the Norwegians could realistically supply to their more crazy southern neighbors? Not so much, I would estimate.

It has helped plug the reality gap for a number of years now. Yet I can see no other country on the map with the geography even close to what Norway offers for hydroelectric storage capacity to cover the Wind Emperor’s lack of clothes.

I’m just glad that this experiment is being done somewhere else. The UK is currently still shooting itself in the foot, energy wise. We can do without any other techno-economic, and socio-political adventures informed by eco warriors and planet savers.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  michael hart
December 14, 2021 5:32 am

“It has helped plug the reality gap for a number of years now.”

Good way to put it.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  michael hart
December 14, 2021 10:54 am

Roger Andrews took a look at this question some years ago (and the picture hasn’t changed, because the hydro resource is still the same). His conclusion: Norwegians need their reservoir capcity for themselves, and can’t really offer much by way of storage to Europe. It’s a very good analysis, worth a read, along with excellent debate in the comments including from those with real experience as hydro engineers. The archived version retains the figures and diagrams not available via a direct link currently:

Håkon Strømme
December 14, 2021 3:21 am

This whole nightmare will not go away before we get severe unemployment in Germany. When a large part of the young can not find work Die Grünen will loose badly in elections. They will sit in their parents home without being able to establish a future for themselves. Then they will realize that they been subjected to a con.

Reply to  Håkon Strømme
December 14, 2021 6:38 am

But dependency on government handouts is part of the socialist plan. You need to get woke, Hakon.

Tom Abbott
December 14, 2021 5:23 am

From the article: “Electric Cars and Radiators Push Norway Power Use to Record High”

It looks like we may have another Climate Crash-Test Dummy forming to demonstrate the folly of total electrification.

Gerry, England
December 14, 2021 5:51 am

I believe Norway does very well from the Denmark arrangement, getting the surplus wind energy on the cheap and selling the Danes expensive hydro when they are desperate.

Reply to  Gerry, England
December 14, 2021 6:52 am

That was back when natural gas was cheap, and Germany was running coal and nuclear plants all through the day.

Welcome to the new ‘normal’.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Gerry, England
December 14, 2021 10:57 am

It’s doing very well from the North Sea Link. The difference in prices between the UK and Norway is split 50/50 between Statnett and National Grid, who are also making a fortune from it, despite the limited capacity at the moment.

December 14, 2021 6:11 am

Norway is increasingly supplying electricity to neighbouring countries:

The north supplies the south and the south helps supply other countries.

December 14, 2021 6:25 am

…and Griff’s reliance on Norway

Walter Sobchak
December 14, 2021 7:18 am

Fun, fun, fun, until your daddy takes the T-bird away.

Iain Russell
December 14, 2021 7:40 am

They won’t need heat pumps soon because of Gerbil Wormening, shoorly?!?

December 14, 2021 7:56 am

Paul Homewood ,tiny typo:
“The report mentions incresing (increasing) demand from industry and oil production, but as Bloomberg reported earlier this year”

Excellent post, thanks

Last edited 1 year ago by Marcus
December 14, 2021 8:50 am

Besides cable interconnects, Norway have been heavily advertising cheap local electricity to firms in the country with the highest bills. So of course these firms move electricity intensive service faclities to Norway, especially fjoerds in the south. This has cost a bundle. If now they face high prices, talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place!

I think Christmas holidays are cancelled for these bean counters!

It doesn't add up...
December 14, 2021 11:07 am

The reality is that Norway’s hydro supply has always been highly variable, as the chart shows. Capacity has been essentially the same throughout the charted period, with maximum production of just over 140TWh a year. In 2003 that fell to 105.5TWh. A year of little snow and reduced snowmelt can heavily eat into supply, and has left Norway importing mainly from Sweden and Denmark to make good. In that sense there is nothing new about Norway being short of power. However, it is now vulnerable to Sweden’s nuclear closures which mean a buffer of supply is no longer available. Linking to the German and UK markets is adding to the woes: both are likely to remain short of electricity for some years until they get their acts together as a result of closures of nuclear and coal capacity and over-reliance on wind (and solar in Germany’s case)

Norway elec Gen.png
December 14, 2021 12:54 pm
It doesn't add up...
Reply to  griff
December 14, 2021 2:27 pm

No it doesn’t. They conclude that PS is only marginally economic in small volumes. No game changer.

Barnes Moore
December 14, 2021 3:39 pm

Well, at what point does a catastrophic grid collapse occur? I am no better than Yogi Berra at predictions, but my guess is sometime in the next 5 years unless some level of sanity prevails.

Reply to  Barnes Moore
December 14, 2021 4:19 pm

Well, we’re constantly told (by some) around here that since a catastrophic grid collapse has not happened yet, it will never happen. So nothing to worry about, right?

Chris Nisbet
December 14, 2021 4:27 pm

Does hydro power count as ‘green’?

December 14, 2021 10:35 pm

“driven by demand from offshore oil and gas platforms” – simple: they use the gas to power themselves instead of running a stupid extension cord from the mainland! Why do the politicians have to micromanage every, especially the things they know nothing about?

Reply to  PCman999
December 14, 2021 10:39 pm

This reminded me of how obvious it seemed in retrospect when I found out that a lot of the top people in China have engineering degrees instead of drama instruction and bar security experience. They are working in an evil system with a bloated bureaucracy and yet they get things done. We live in evil systems that bleed us dry and get nothing done.

December 15, 2021 4:33 pm

My sympathy for German and Denmark voters is running low.

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