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Norway’s Hunger For Electricity

February 8, 2021

By Paul Homewood


A little bit more detail to add to the post I did on Norway’s power consumption last week:





As the charts above show, generation runs at around 15 GW in summer, but rises to 25 GW in winter. Nearly all of Norway’s power comes from hydro. Demand in summer tends to be lower than generation, but in winter surpluses are smaller:







Norway’s electricity consumption is much greater than the UK’s on a per capita basis – 25 MWh v 5 MWh. The main reason is that Norway uses very little gas, either domestically or industrially:




BP Energy Review 2019


Instead they are mainly reliant on electricity for heating. A 2012 study by Norway Statistics found that average household electricity consumption was 15977 KWh, roughly equivalent to the combined electricity. gas consumption of a UK home:



In 2012, 44% of all detached homes had heat pumps. They also commented:



It is no surprise then to see why electricity consumption is so high in Norway. In 2019, for instance, generation amounted to 134 Twh for a population of 5 million, compared to 323 TWh in the UK with a population of 67 million.


This ultra reliance on electrical heating gives an insight into the increase in generating capacity the UK will need, if it follows Norway’s path.

Given that we have a population 12 times the size. where Norway’s demand peaks at 25 GW, ours is likely to hot 300 GW.

It is worth pointing out, by the way, that Norway’s conversion to electric cars has barely got going yet, with EVs only accounting for about 10% of cars on the road. When all cars are electric, this will inevitable put more pressure on the grid.

  1. February 8, 2021 2:35 pm

    What is the cost of residential and commercial electricity in Norway?

    • subseaeng permalink
      February 8, 2021 7:36 pm

      Residential about 8p/kWh and commercial about 4.5 p/kWh inclusive of everything as far as I can ascertain.

    • Joe Public permalink
      February 8, 2021 7:37 pm

      Hi Mark

      Scroll up for domestic consumer prices, scroll down for non-domestic consumer prices.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2021 9:13 pm

      Norway’s own statistics:

      I used £1=11.72NOK for conversion the other day to get about 6 p/kWh for domestic supply. Quite a bit of detail on the kinds of contracts people choose to take on – most opt for spot pricing, which gave cheap power last year. Not longer, I suspect, as wholesale prices have now started to echo those in Germany since the new interconnector started:

      Some big price increases coming, which will hurt – including on grid rent tariffs:

      • February 9, 2021 10:53 am

        I live in Norway.
        The electricity supply is just one more infernal state monopoly. During the last three years prices went through the roof not because of electricity costing more but bullcrap standing charges and the cost of building part time electricity supplying full time bird killers (windmills)
        About 10 years or so ago an overzealous seller in Lyse( the state electricity monopoly) oversold their future electricity production to Denmark and I think Germany. The problem was discovered after the paperwork was signed so they went to the Danes et al cap in hand and said ” can we have some of our electricity back”. The answer was yes sure, how much do you want to play! Overnight the cost of electricity ( not supply) doubled. No one lost their job, no government was replaced because of abject incompetence. Strangely the price never came down again once these trusting people were in the bag.
        Fast forward to about 2 years ago. Talk to any Norwegian and they puff up about a lot of things but proudly proclaim how cheap their electricity is ( mouthing the government line is the default stance here). What never ceases to amaze me is the number they proudly refer to does not include supply but the now meaningless number for actual electricity. It is like quoting the price to a Ferrari which actually only covers the cost of the wheels. It is absurd and a sleight of hand by the state monopoly which plays on this sleight. Indeed they made a big thing out of “diversifying suppliers” but these middle men companies only have control over the electricity price NOT the bullcrap standing charges which are the main part of the bill and the government monopoly keeps tight control over them.
        They have the same standing charge scam which we have in the UK but this one is on speed! The Norwegian system was to have a fixed standing charge and incredibly a second standing charge which grows pro rata when you actually used electricity( effectively doubling the cost)
        Two years ago the dull witted ones in the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament which literally translates as the “Big Thing voted to build a whole load of bird killers ( windmills). Our Parliament is full of people with law degrees. Theirs is populated with ex union leaders, social workers, kindergarten “mammas” and school teachers!
        The greenblob do not like Hydro and have been agitating very effectively against more capacity. I have no idea what their problem can be. No one lives in the remote places where the reservoirs are located and life is marginal to say the least. Anyway, to pay for the worthless bird killers a THIRD standing charge was applied to our bills instantly. Now between 66% and 75% of my bill are bulcrap charges. You would think because of this everything supply wise would be brand spanking new. Dead wrong!
        Locally where I live we have Rolls Royce standard supply charges and Lada quality infrastructure. It is ancient and woefully lacking in capacity. I do not have three phase available.
        As for those bird killers. There is a crop of about 10 giant ones over the hill from where I live sticking up like triffids. There has been a non moving high pressure system sitting over Scandinavia now into its third week of seriously minus temperatures. In all that time the bird killers have not turned once…….at least the birds are happy and can just starve to death rather than having also to dodge the triffids in their weakened state and get chopped into pieces instead……

  2. Brian Smith permalink
    February 8, 2021 2:52 pm

    Is anyone in government reading this? (If Norwegians weren’t able to use wood – as we can’t here in the UK – their electricity consumption would be even higher.)

    • February 9, 2021 10:58 am

      My oven is devouring my supply. It normally lasts me all winter and after three weeks of -7 to -13 in my bit of Norway where it is usually +6 to -1 deg C in the winter I have got through 2/3 of it already! If I turned all my electric radiators on I would need to agree a mortgage first!

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:09 pm

    Greens are forever telling us that wind and sun are free. That being the case, I guess that Norwegians must have free power ‘cos water’s free, innit?

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:14 pm

    Bit off topic – but covers power generation – but Ambrose is getting taken to task with his news of radio-isotope ‘batteries’.

    • Penda100 permalink
      February 8, 2021 5:24 pm

      But only few weeks ago Ambrose was telling us that stored compressed air was going to meet all our energy needs.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      February 8, 2021 5:51 pm

      That article is beyond risible. RTGs (radio isotope thermoelectric generators) have been around since the 1950s. Thousands of people in the 70,s had them implanted in their chests to power cardiac pacemakers. In fact the furthest manmade objects which are currently en route to the Oort Cloud have RTGs on board. There are RTGs on he Moon, on Mars and even at the bottom of the Marianas Trench!
      The principle of regular thermoelectric generation is much older and there are some very interesting developments in the automotive area where being fitted to the exhaust stream they can convert waste heat energy directly to electricity to charge hybrid batteries. If (quite a big if) the efficiency can be upped to say 20% of the wasted 60% as heat then the internal combustion hybrid engine suddenly becomes hugely more efficient overall.
      This wiki page is quite good on the subject.

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        February 10, 2021 8:43 pm

        Risible indeed! I thought our host might have a go, but maybe the target is so big it’s no fun.

        First sentence:
        “Imagine a nuclear battery in a little box that uses decaying isotopes to generate cheap and clean electricity around the clock for decades with no combustion, fission, or noise.”

        If not fission, where’s the energy coming from, Ambrose?

        “Cobalt-60 is relatively safe with a half-life of 5.2 years, though you would not want it in your kitchen.”

        Damn right I wouldn’t! Relatively safe? Do you think that a shorter half life makes it safer? Really?

        And as for harnessing the power of gamma rays…

      • Brian Smith permalink
        February 10, 2021 11:57 pm

        Not true, radioactive decay is not fission. See here:

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        February 10, 2021 9:03 pm

        “In the Samut Prakan radiation accident in 2000, a disused radiotherapy head containing a Co60 source was …sold to scrap collectors. Unaware of the dangers, a junkyard employee dismantled the head and extracted the source… Three of the junkyard workers subsequently died as a result of their exposure, which was estimated to be over 6 Gy. “

      • Stuart Brown permalink
        February 11, 2021 10:38 am

        Brian, Cobalt 60 undergoes beta decay to Nickel 60 with the subsequent emission of a couple of gamma rays.

        I stand corrected, thanks for keeping me honest. And apologies to Ambrose and Infinite Energy.

        It’s still dangerous though!

      • Brian Smith permalink
        February 11, 2021 10:44 am

        You’re welcome Stuart. I only looked into it because I didn’t know myself what the difference was.

        And you are right, radio-activity is very dangerous. It killed both the Curies at a time when they, and we, had no understanding of the phenomenon.

        The crucial difference being, I suppose, that fission doesn’t take place in normal atmospheric conditions. As the Manhattan project discovered, it can be very difficult to make it happen at all.

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:14 pm

    A couple of links with some more details on the Norwegian system,than%20it%20has%20for%20decades.

    Hydro reservoirs amount to storage of 70% of annual demand. Not a few piddling batteries. And still there are years when they have been dependent on imports from neighbouring countries.

    How the market has operated.

    • February 9, 2021 11:03 am

      There is a very big well organized anti hydro lobby in Norway. I still cannot find why they can have a problem with this wonderful on demand supply of energy. I seem to see “ecological reasons” cited but where the reservoirs are located it is just rock and a few bits of lichen. Paradoxically the same people are silent about birdkillers (windmills). perhaps the problem is people and not the reservoirs!

  6. ian Cunningham permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:17 pm

    Do I understand correctly that they are going to sell us electricity via an interconnector, or is it for us to sell them ‘surplus’ wind produced electricity?

    • February 9, 2021 6:34 pm

      We sell them cheap wind power when there’s too much of it, then they sell us pricey hydro power back when the wind dies and we’re desperate. Heads they win, tails we lose.

  7. Michael Rennoldson permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:22 pm

    What is the UK’s current generating capacity please?

    • February 8, 2021 5:11 pm

      UK generating capacity is somewhat of a moving target, as things change over time and reports somewhat lag reality. But, here goes:

      Total installed generating capacity, 2019, 204.5 GW

      2019 reports: Total power generated: 323.7 TWh

      Actual generation by source, (2018 installed capacity)

      Gas: 40.9% , (32.6 GW )
      Coal: 2.9% , ( 12.9 GW )
      Renewables: 36.9% , (47.4 GW )
      Nuclear: 17.4% , (108 GW )
      Oil/Other: 2.7% , (3.6 GW )

      That being said, the capacity factor for solar averages 15%, wind: 25%, whereas the factors for the others are: nuclear, 93.5%, coal, 47.5%, gas, 56.9%,


      Click to access Press_Notice_March_2020.pdf

      List of UK operating generation sources, 2020,

      • February 8, 2021 5:30 pm

        TYPO – Nuclear is 10.8 GW

        Looks like my guess of 60 GW was about right!

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        February 8, 2021 5:48 pm

        Breakdown here:

      • Joe Public permalink
        February 8, 2021 7:41 pm

        Second typo from a summation that includes the first typo: 😀

        “Total installed generating capacity, 2019, 204.5 GW”

      • February 9, 2021 7:29 am

        Hello Cowboy,,

        a note on availability. Gas and coal are the modulators that balance the grid and so the figures are not a true basis for their availability using the true sense of the word. They are much nearer the high nineties per cent if required, i.e. on demand, the same is true of nuclear. Also a lot of availability for conventional plant is scheduled down time for maintenance in the Summer.
        Wind and solar availability is as much as it can get. Yes, they too will have scheduled down time for maintenance but I expect a much higher unscheduled downtime due to the harsh conditions in which they operate.

    • February 8, 2021 5:28 pm

      Good question!!

      Excluding unreliables, about 60 GW I think

      • February 8, 2021 7:04 pm

        Apologies for the typo. Fat fingers. 🙂 Thanks for catching that.

  8. Gerry, England permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:25 pm

    I once read that Norway took excess wind electricity from Denmark at a knockdown price and in return sold them expensive hydro power when they needed it. Still true?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 8, 2021 3:59 pm

      You can now add Germany to the same picture, now with a direct link. The disadvantage for the Norwegians has been exposure to German power prices during shortages. Spot the connection (literally!) here:

      • Gerry, England permalink
        February 8, 2021 6:57 pm

        The downside of taking the cheap excess wind is the instability it introduces into your grid.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        February 8, 2021 8:23 pm

        As the power flows are insulated by the HVDC connections, many of the problems are avoided. Grid stability would only become an issue if too much wind is allowed onto the Nordic grid directly. Swedish plans to replace nuclear by wind are the main threat.

        Click to access nordic-grid-development-plan-2019-for-web.pdf

      • Duker permalink
        February 8, 2021 8:46 pm

        Yes. Electricity flows follow the money. They found out about the ‘money flow’ in Australia for their regional gas markets, once the local market was ‘connected’ to the international network via a gas carrier import terminal ( its too far to pipe from the more remote gas fields) up, up, way up went the prices.

      • February 9, 2021 7:18 pm

        No problem if the excess wind power is used to pump water uphill to a storage reservoir or tank.

  9. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 8, 2021 3:32 pm

    Of course EVs are popular in Norway: Cheap electricity; excess generating capacity; no VAT on EVs; no toll charges for EVs; and money coming out of their ears …… from oil and gas sales! As Benny Hill used to sing “What a world, what a place, ain’t you glad your a member of the human race”.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      February 9, 2021 9:29 am

      Now add in the following, for Norwegian EV buyers.
      No purchase/import taxes (1990-)
      Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase (2001-)
      No annual road tax (1996-)
      No charges on toll roads or ferries (1997- 2017).
      Maximum 50% of the total amount on ferry fares for electric vehicles (2018-)
      Maximum 50% of the total amount on toll roads (2019)
      Free municipal parking (1999- 2017)
      Parking fee for EVs was introduced locally with an upper limit of a maximum 50% of the full price (2018-)
      Access to bus lanes (2005-).
      New rules allow local authorities to limit the access to only include EVs that carry one or more passengers (2016)
      50 % reduced company car tax (2000-2018).
      Company car tax reduction reduced to 40% (2018-)
      Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing (2015)
      Fiscal compensation for the scrapping of fossil vans when converting to a zero-emission van (2018)
      Allowing holders of driver licence class B to drive electric vans class C1 (light lorries) up to 4250 kg (2019)
      Then looking at the price of an EV & comparable ICEV

      The cost of fast-charging an EV, is around 3x the residential electricity costs.

      • February 9, 2021 11:10 am

        Adam, a good summary. Add to that the Norwegians cannot resist “getting something for free” especially when the government tells them so. Free Norwegian style is to be presented with a rediculously high price and then be told if they do such and such they will not have to pay some taxes thereby discounting the stupid high price a little. It is like getting kids to do things for sweeties. A bunch of large retainlers ( Ikea etc and companies) offered free charging. Not sure what the status of that subsidy is. There is a two tesla houshold down the road from me….double virtue signalling!

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        February 9, 2021 11:59 am

        Great details, It shows how wealthy Norway is when it can throw-away the massive tax benefits of the ICE to subsidise EVs so massively. If it wasn’t for their winters……..

  10. February 8, 2021 7:02 pm

    UK uses approx 50,000 metric tons of petroleum per year for transportation. At 11.63 MW/tonne equivalent, this is 581.5 GW electrical equivalent. Or about 66 MW/hr 24 hrs/day, 365 days/yr.

    So, if UK is going to go EV, then the grid needs an additional capacity to provide 66 MW/hr to charging the EVs and transmission/distribution upgrades to match that.

    A Tesla “slow charger” requires 14 kW, the fast charger, 28 kW. It might be also required to upgrade residential electric service to provide for that load, as well as the substations and distribution network and switchgear. As of 2019 there were 31,888,448 cars licensed in Great Britain. That’s a lot of 14 kW chargers.

    • February 9, 2021 7:36 am

      Hello Cowboy,
      your last paragraph is exactly right, bearing in mind the average domestic dwelling now is rated at just under 20 KVA (A more accurate measure)
      I wasn’t aware that the Tesla charger is that big.
      Thus a 14Kw at a nominal 0.8 power factor is equal to just over 17 KVA, it doesn’t leave much for any other load?
      A street full of Tesla’s charging is not what the local distribution network is sized for.
      Expensive and disruptive to remedy.

    • Colin MacDonald permalink
      February 9, 2021 8:44 am

      I think we use a bit more than 50,000 tonnes! That’s about a litre per head of population.

    • MikeHig permalink
      February 9, 2021 3:18 pm

      Cowboy: UK oil consumption for transport was about 57 million tons in 2020. However, that probably includes rail, sea and air as well as road transport.
      A second point: it is not a one-to-one equivalence going from energy consumed as oil to electric power. IC engines are not very efficient – probably only 20 – 30% in average use. That has to be factored into the calculations.

  11. ianprsy permalink
    February 8, 2021 7:04 pm

    I’m sure I heard Dale Vince* on Talk Radio this am say that 50% of Norway’s cars are electric. Not much difference!

    *Owner of Ecotricity = reliant on gravy train.

    • subseaeng permalink
      February 8, 2021 7:34 pm

      I think it is supposedly 50% of new cars sold in Norway are now electric. However not unexpected given the benefits provided and that a Tesla will cost the same as a VW Passat. Much more kudos.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        February 8, 2021 9:04 pm

        Yes it was of cars sold. TCO (Total Cost of Ownership 4 years) is shown on page 11 in doc below. Shows how crazy level of subsidy in Norway (and cheap electricity) and massive registration/ownership taxes for ICE, swings the balance in favour of EVs. Of course someone pays at some point and many of the cost/convenience advantages of EV ownership will disappear once the shift to EVs has been (largely) achieved.

        Click to access ICCT_EV-fiscal-incentives_20140506.pdf

      • February 8, 2021 9:23 pm

        Yes, I believe the % of new car sales is about 40%

  12. I don't believe it! permalink
    February 8, 2021 9:00 pm

    Read a good article on this a while back. 50% of new car sales were electric. Massive subsidies to buy:most being used as second cars. However what was interesting was the affect the subsidies and loss of revenue from reduced petrol sales was having on Norway’s finances. Overspending on a Saudi scale!

    • Broadlands permalink
      February 9, 2021 1:49 am

      What sort of trade-in values can one get on a conventional petrol vehicle that will be useless without fuels? What will happen to used car salesmen? Sell used PV cars in need of new batteries, not to mention tires? Unintended, unanticipated consequences can be large. Someone has to pay for all those massive subsidies. Guess who?

  13. MikeHig permalink
    February 9, 2021 3:25 pm

    Paul H: Maybe I missed something in the charts but I couldn’t see how much of Norway’s generation is exported. It’s my impression that their exports are quite substantial (on a net basis, after the “power shuttling” they do with Denmark and Germany).
    If exports have not been excluded then the calculations need to be adjusted.

    • February 9, 2021 6:12 pm

      Yes, they don’t show on that website, but you can work it out from the gap between generation and demand (the botton graph in grey)

      • MikeHig permalink
        February 9, 2021 7:30 pm

        Thanks for that clarification, Paul.
        Although those projections for the UK may look extreme, they are corroborated by the UK gas demand figures which, iirc, are something like 5 times the electric demand.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 9, 2021 7:08 pm

      The trade is perhaps not as yet as big as you imagine. Data here:

      Use the menu to see exports and consumption.

      2020 has been somewhat different, with more substantial net exports driven by lower demand and brimful hydro reservoirs. Basically, Norway was not able to absorb imports as normal for fear of overtopping the dams. With winter, snowmelt is no longer a pressing factor, and the newly opened interconnector to Germany and lack of wind and solar has brought German prices to Norway. The effect has been startling:

  14. MikeHig permalink
    February 9, 2021 10:58 pm

    Idau: That graph of day-ahead pricing is startling indeed.
    Am I reading it right: is it showing that the opening of that interconnector means that Norwegian customers are competing with Germany for the power and, consequently, having to pay German prices?

  15. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 12, 2021 2:11 pm

    Was intrigued by the extent of heat pump usage in Norway, given the low winter ambient.
    It seems that most systems are not simple units but sea (fjord)-water based some with other heat sources and many are embedded in DH systems. This explains the high COP values quoted. Norway’s population is mainly located close to the sea, which helps a lot.

    Suspect that the heat exchangers will have a short life in salt-water!

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