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Norway could resort to electricity rationing – and UK supplies at risk – Reaction Life - 08.08.22

by Noah Keate

Norway has signalled today it may have to introduce electricity rationing this winter. That could be a big problem for the UK. The government’s line for months has been that Britain has no supply problem on electricity, or gas, as it has enough supply coming from Norway.

Perhaps not, it now turns out. While the Norwegian government is stressing the importance of European cooperation, it has promised to prioritise supplying Norwegian homes and businesses. If Norway does have to start rationing electricity, will gas be next?

The root of the problem lies in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It prompted European countries to shift their supply of oil and gas. The UK was not in that ship, importing only 8 per cent of oil from Russia. Instead, it received nearly half of its crude oil imports from Norway, a trusted ally where stability was guaranteed. Until today.

Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland gave a statement about the nation’s electricity situation and potential rationing, announcing electricity production in southern Norway was 18 per cent lower than last year.

Furthermore, thanks to a hot summer and water problems, hydropower production, providing 90 per cent of Norway’s electricity, was the lowest seen so far this year. In a wide-ranging speech, Aasland was unable to rule out electricity rationing.

On rationing:

“And if we were to end up in such a situation, it would probably be a matter of a limited area of the country, a few days or a few weeks in April/May, and would primarily have an effect on business. However, we want to be clear that people do not need to fear that they will not get the electricity they need for their homes throughout the winter. If, contrary to presumption, we end up in a rationing situation, households will be protected.”

“In order to avoid ending up in a very strained power situation, over time we have had a close dialogue with the hydropower producers in southern Norway. We wanted to make sure that the producers manage the water in a good way.”

On water supplies:

“I am happy to report that we now have more water in the reservoirs than our forecasts before the summer showed would be the degree of filling at the start of autumn. I therefore believe that our measures have been correct and absolutely necessary.”

“But it is also the case that saving water now as insurance against even more demanding situations later, contributes to already high prices now becoming even higher. However, everyone must be confident that the government will continue to do what is necessary to ensure enough electricity for the winter and that we will continue to help cover the electricity bill for as long as it is needed.”

On energy across Europe:

“In the same way that the individual countries in Europe face challenges in their energy composition – we see that Germany is starting up coal-fired power plants again in the short term – the situation could also put pressure on Norwegian hydropower.”

“It is therefore natural that we make the necessary adjustments so that our hydropower system will continue to be a guarantor of a good power supply for Norwegian households and businesses through troubled times, both in years with a lot of rainfall and in periods when the inflow fails.”

On exports:

“Net exports from southern Norway have overall reduced from 8 TWh at the same time last year to below 2 TWh this year. The net export corresponds to 3.5 per cent of production in southern Norway, and 3.6 per cent of consumption. Southern Norway had a net import of 61 GWh last week. This is something we do not often see in the summer in the Norwegian power system.”

“I will continue to be clear with the power producers. At the same time, there is little to suggest that the demanding situation in Europe will end soon, and climate change means that we must be prepared for more extreme rainfall variations, which in turn will have consequences for our weather-dependent power system. I am therefore concerned that we should be even better prepared for such situations in the future.”

On European cooperation:

“Export of power receives a lot of attention. That’s understandable. At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that our weather-dependent power supply is just that; weather dependent. We see large variations from year to year, and through different periods of the year. This will continue to be the case in the years to come, even though we normally have a power surplus in Norway.”

“The energy cooperation and our transmission connections have therefore been and are part of the fundamental security for the Norwegian power supply, especially in periods of low inflows. We depend on our connections to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the UK, Finland and the Netherlands working well. It would be short-term and unwise to end this energy cooperation, even if the situation is now demanding.”

“At the same time, it is our job to secure our own power supply in uncertain times. We must have security so that we can cover our own needs in the face of abnormal and unforeseen events. It requires stronger regulation.”

For this article in pdf, please click here:

Norway could resort to electricity rationing – and UK supplies at risk – by Noah Keate for
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Terje Aasland’s full speech to the Storting in English can be read here:

The Minister of Petroleum and Energy's report to the Storting on the electricity situation
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via hramovnick / Shutterstock

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