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Norway’s Power Surplus Disappearing Rapidly

December 13, 2021

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!

  1. Jack Broughton permalink
    December 13, 2021 11:54 am

    Surely bumbling boz can find a good pretext for the UK to occupy Norway, pre-1066 we were very closely related? Solve all of our problems in a flash, they don’t need all that oil, gas and money.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      December 13, 2021 12:58 pm

      Possibly problematic, the Auld Alliance originally included Norway and I don’t know if it’s not still enforce. The Alliance between Scotland and France was only officially ended by the Entente Cordial where Norway wasn’t involved. Possibly like Berwick On Tweed being at war with Russia since the Crimean War. Again somethingthat might be tricky if Russia gets nasty with Ukraine.

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        December 13, 2021 2:25 pm

        True, but I was thinking of the unification under Cnut with Norway and Denmark, and of course the previous invasions for which they surely owe us reparations?

        When the Russians take over East Ukraine would be a good cover!

  2. Ben Vorlich permalink
    December 13, 2021 11:56 am

    Was this you?

    BBC’s climate editor is censured for giving viewers an ‘inaccurate impression’ after saying the offshore wind industry was ‘now virtually subsidy-free’

  3. 4 Eyes permalink
    December 13, 2021 11:57 am

    “Power demand in Norway is expected to grow to 158 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2026,..” There they go again, confusing power with its integral, energy. This is not being pedantic, it is very important. Most politicians, ex-politicians, activists, journalists, children and film stars still do not understand the difference between power and energy and what it means in practical terms and subsequently in policy terms.

    • December 13, 2021 12:46 pm

      I have been saying that for years, but I have found that it is impossible to get the message across to the decision-makers that power is not the same as energy.

      • dave permalink
        December 14, 2021 11:09 am

        ‘…the decision makers…’

        They are the muddle-headed chumps who snored at the back during science and math lessons. It was always clear who had the glimmerings of a scientific mind, and who was simply…lazy!

        To be fair, it is partly the fault of those utilities who have historically called themselves ‘power companies’ – perhaps because the word is punchier than ‘energy.’

        If the lights fail, we all say ‘Drat! Power Cut!” rather than “I have no joules!”

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      December 13, 2021 1:26 pm

      You’re right — and you can include in your list ‘ex-journos sitting reading this after lunch plus his ex-school teacher wife across the table!
      And I am “on your side” and if I don’t properly understand the difference (and I want to if it’s important) then expecting politicos and green activists, not to mention hordes of Arts or PPE graduates who don’t even understand there is a difference is a non-starter.
      It is an uphill battle because there are not many left who remember a time when electricity wasn’t available 24/7 at the flick of a switch and they fully expect that situation to continue!

      As an aside: we are about to experience a planned outage from 0800 to 1600 tomorrow. This means: no central heating (forecast temperature for midday is +2°!); gas cooker will work (if I can remember where the matches are); no communication with the outside world except by mobile phone; no lighting of course and if it is as dull tomorrow as it is today that could be a problem … Now what happens x years down the line when that situation becomes more frequent and unpredictable and how do you get the message across that this IS what is going to happen if we don’t have the generating capacity to meet demand 24/7 and it is going to happen in spades if we insist on converting transport and heating to electricity without building the PROPER infrastructure to ensure supply. And just how thick are our leaders — and ‘colleagues’ in my former profession — if they cannot understand how inevitable this disaster is if we don’t come to our senses pretty soon?

      Sorry, Paul ….. rant over!😖

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        December 13, 2021 1:50 pm

        I guess people will have torches, matches, candles and perhaps a camping stove in a ready to use locker.

      • John Hultquist permalink
        December 13, 2021 5:32 pm

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        December 13, 2021 5:32 pm

        Daddy, what did we use for light before candles?
        Electricity, son, electricity….

      • markl permalink
        December 14, 2021 12:09 am

        Where do you live that it’s OK to have a planned outage for 8 hours in the middle of the day in winter? That’s insane!

    • Kevin Carmichael permalink
      December 14, 2021 4:00 am

      What is the difference between power and energy?

      • dave permalink
        December 14, 2021 3:27 pm



        “Energy,” in physics, is the capacity to do work or produce heating.
        “Power” is the rate at which that capacity is being provided.
        Common units of measurement are respectively joules and watts.
        A watt of power is the provision of one joule of energy every second for as long as the power supply is ‘switched on.’

        In the context of water “heating,” it is less abstract. 4.2 joules of energy is enough to raise the temperature of one cubic centimeter of water by one degree Celsius. A watt of power is the provision of one joule of energy per second.

        So if you have one watt of power into your electric kettle ‘switched on’ for say 4.2 seconds you have 4.2 joules to play with. And that is enough to raise one c.c. by a degree C.

        In practice, the unit of power is a thousand watts – a kilowatt – and the unit of energy is a kilowatt-hour i.e. 1,000 watts x 3,600 seconds = 3,600,000 joules.

    • Diogenese10 permalink
      December 14, 2021 5:58 pm

      Interesting that both God’s have signed a agreement to share power supplies .

  4. JimW permalink
    December 13, 2021 12:57 pm

    But, but what’s going to happen to all those new interconnectors Grid is ordering? You know the ones the France who need new nukes, Belgium who need France’s new nukes, Holland who need well something from somebody, Germany who need Norway to export and of course France’s new nukes and Poland’s coal, Denmark who need Norway and of course Norway who will just need more hydro or not. Looks like a winner!

  5. Ray Sanders permalink
    December 13, 2021 1:05 pm

    This Norway dependency completely baffles me as it has no basis in simple numbers. Norway in population terms is tiny by European standards at just 5.4 million. Flat out max capacity of their system is 10.5GW South West, 3.75GW South East, 7.7GW West, Mid 4.71GW and North 5.2GW making a grand total of about 32GW.
    Even if it ran at 100% capacity factor (it definitely will never do that) it would still only reach 280TWh.
    Yes it can certainly help out with other small nations on the Baltic Grid like Denmark (5.8 million) or Sweden (10.3 million) but as soon as you start to look at bigger countries demands it is miles of anywhere near useful numbers. As well as the obvious point that Norway might just like to use some (i.e. most) of its own generation, they might also like to make their own decisions. Why should they have new walls built at the end of every valley to flood their landscape for other’s benefits? The proposed North Connect interconnector to Scotland was actually made illegal by the Norwegian government for a period of 3 years as they do not want energy sucked out of their country resulting in hugely increased domestic bills.
    This Norwegian Battery is simply pie in the sky.

    • December 13, 2021 3:59 pm

      The Norwegian goverment is doing exactly that,
      they sell out our electric energy in a large scale,
      and the domestic energy bills have been skyrocking this year, they are completely isane.
      The ordinary people in Norway are furious but can’t do anything, because Norway is nearly a complete communistic Dictatorship .

      • Duker permalink
        December 14, 2021 1:34 am

        Dictatorship ? The elections in last 12 months mean a change of government.
        Apart from North Korea no one has a communist dictatorship anymore- theres a few Leninist-One- Party states but they love their quasi-capitalist systems even more.
        The Green – Climate ideology is a faith based religion

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      December 13, 2021 9:26 pm

      Norwegian hydro generation is constrained by snowmelt. If they have a poor snow season then generation drops sharply, and they have found themselves dependent on imports from Sweden and Denmark in the past. Maximum hydro generation is just over 140TWh a year, hit in 2000, 2008, 2012, 2015-18 and 2020. 2003 was a particularly bad year, producing only 104TWh. 2001-4 was a run of poor years. But they have also been net importers on at least a quarterly basis in 2006, 2009-11, 2018/19. Hydro may be the most reliable renewable, but it isn’t completely reliable. The weather still intervenes.

    • Dan permalink
      December 15, 2021 6:01 pm

      Indeed. And given the makeup of the euro electricity block the UK could be the first shortfall as it decided to leave it post brexit.

  6. europeanonion permalink
    December 13, 2021 1:06 pm

    At least the Norwegians have their sovereign fund with $1.4 trillion. They have options. We have been profligate and, inevitably, fall foul of snake oil salesmen. Rolls-Royce’s distributed nuclear conception is our only real opportunity. Poor Britain. In this instance, a nation suffering because of its claim to being ingenious. What a clever country and its windmills. By the time the current windmill plans are completed it will be about time to renew the existing ones that have started to rot.

    • December 13, 2021 1:14 pm

      They are eating into that at an ever increasing rate already. With out the excuse of post colonial guilt they have joined the mass societal suicide pact of Europe.
      Will the last person to leave the room turn off the lights…

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        December 13, 2021 1:29 pm

        Turn off the lights? You mean, blow out the candles!

    • Robert Christopher permalink
      December 13, 2021 2:39 pm

      Norwegians have a sovereign fund because they didn’t have a stock exchange that could handle the vast quantities of money involved: they had ten times the wealth that Britons had. They had similar oil reserves, but a tenth of the population.

      Britain wasn’t profligate with its oil revenues as the income went to pay for the infrastructure delivering the resource, salaries for the highly skilled Engineers, many of whom has to endure the North Sea elements, share holders who risk billions of GBPs investing in the industry, and taxes. It was the government, influenced by the voters, lobbyists and the Legacy Media, that decided where the taxes were spent, not the oil companies alone, so your accusation is misplaced.

      I expect many of those benefiting from the North Sea Oil Boom have put some of the proceeds in their private pension. So much better for individuals to control their own wealth. Had the government created a wealth fund, it would have been raided by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer!

      Reports from a few years ago stated that Norway had borrowed over 80% of their sovereign wealth fund’s value. Depending on the investments in the fund, the current percentage could now be higher or lower, so it is misleading to imply all the fund is available.

      The recent pension plans mandated by the UK government are ‘investing’ in Green Technology, so a sovereign fund would have only have created another ‘independent’, (independent from what?) unaccountable committee that could lean with the political flavour on the month.

      • Martin Brumby permalink
        December 13, 2021 4:45 pm

        I must point out that a very large amount of the UK oil revenues went (as usual) to the NHS which (as usual) is now even less fit for purpose than it was then.
        And has 141,000 beds in England now compared to 299,000 beds in 1987/8. And, of course, a good 10% increase in population due to (effectively) open borders.

        Now, despite being one of the most highly funded health systems in the world, with staffing levels only beaten by the Indian Railways and the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army, the quality of its outcomes (notably cancer) is at the bottom end of most wealthy European Countries. You will have noticed that they need our constant protection, the perpetual excuse for tyranical ‘Lockdowns’.

        Another huge chunk went on the burgeoning unempolyment numbers and long term sick numbers (boosted when the unemployment numbers got embarassing). I well remember discussing some technical problems with a Colliery Manager, not long after the end of the 1984/5 Miners’ Strike. The telephone rang and the Manager signalled me to keep quiet because Coal House was on the line. He was instructed to offer those wanting to leave the industry who weren’t in the most robust health (in other words, all those with glass backs) to go out “on the sick”. Very many did and have never worked a day (officially) since.

        Later, a ‘better’ use was found for oil revenues. Throw them at Ruinable Energy.

  7. December 13, 2021 1:12 pm

    So ANOTHER excuse for them to put up the price of my electricity ( as if the need one here in Norway)!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      December 13, 2021 4:26 pm

      Hi a quick internet scan threw up a price of 76.3øre per kWh.
      Is that right? That equates to more than triple my UK price – surely not?

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        December 13, 2021 9:34 pm

        Norway did very well in 2020 with per kWh charges almost too cheap to meter (there are substantial charges for capacity of your meter fuse, as much of the cost is poles and wires). At least until they opened the new direct interconnector to Germany, whereupon they started importing German pricing.

        The experience is probably why they have limited the NSL to the UK to 700MW of its 1.4GW capacity

  8. David permalink
    December 13, 2021 1:21 pm

    When all this is over will our government finance the removal of all evidence of the rusty windmills when their owners have milked then of cash, gone bust and toddled off to the Cayman Islands?

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 13, 2021 2:52 pm

      “Will our government”

      “Our” government doesn’t have any money of its own – it’s all stolen from taxpayers…

  9. Ben Vorlich permalink
    December 13, 2021 1:59 pm

    Looks like half of Rutland is about to become a solar farm

    Plans for 880-hectare Mallard Pass Solar Farm, either side of East Coast Main Line near Essendine, unveiled by Windel Energy and Canadian Solar

    The area is a square with sides of 1.9 miles, but zero output at night.

    • T Walker permalink
      December 13, 2021 2:57 pm

      Probably already ordered the flood-lights to generate nighttime output!!!! Ben.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      December 13, 2021 2:59 pm

      “But zero output at night.”

      Perhaps they should try the Spanish trick of running diesel generators during the hours of darkness, and claiming subsidies from the power they produce. Considering some £5bn from the Covid furlough scheme has been lost to scams, I wonder how long before our dysfunctional DECC would notice?

    • Martin Brumby permalink
      December 13, 2021 11:40 pm

      And not much better any time, especially in Winter.
      How much electricity can you get even at midday when you are at around 54° latitude?
      Not a lot different from South Georgia.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    December 13, 2021 2:05 pm

    Boris will be fine. He’ll be out of office by 2026. No worries, Mate.

  11. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    December 13, 2021 2:08 pm

    Not a problem gives the windmills sprouting up out of the N.Sea somewhere to send their expensive amps.

  12. Mike Stoddart permalink
    December 13, 2021 2:10 pm

    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.
    Is this the right way round?

  13. T Walker permalink
    December 13, 2021 2:54 pm

    Well all this interesting discussion reminds of the linked economics situation.

    I remember there being a version set in France, which ends with the line something like

    “and this is how the EU operates so good luck everybody.”

  14. Gerry, England permalink
    December 13, 2021 4:33 pm

    Now for good news – Investec think high gas prices will last into 2023.

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 13, 2021 9:56 pm

    P-F Bach always has an excellent insight into Scandinavian electricity. His brief note here

    Click to access pfb_markets_challenged_by_wind_and_hydro_variations_2021_08_15.pdf

    covers the essentials from earlier this year. He notes that since then, snowmelt has boosted reservoir levels from what threatened to be a very expensive winter.

    Roger Andrews took a look at the Norwegian situation and concluded that there really wasn’t any significant balancing capacity available.

  16. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 13, 2021 10:04 pm

    N.B. archive version of the Roger Andrews article needed to see the charts and figures.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 14, 2021 9:04 am

    Yes pretty sure every surplus that could be exported from everywhere is counted at least three times over in countries plans. And none has made the obvious assumption that electricity hungry businesses like data centres will move to those countries with a surplus.

    Because still, after 150 years of evidence, bureaucrats think they can plan 50 years into the future.

  18. MrGrimNasty permalink
    December 15, 2021 10:00 am

    The UK has a new 1.4GW (currently half power) Norway link intended to balance UK wind with Norway hydro.

    Also, high pressure is going to start dominating UK weather, currently looks like it won’t be too massive and may stay windy around the edges and not too cold, but could easily end up with another prolonged lack of wind power and cold weather if things change slightly.

  19. Gamecock permalink
    December 18, 2021 12:18 pm

    Methinks Norway’s excess capacity is over subscribed.

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