In Norway, resistance to energy exports to Germany is growing

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In Norway, resistance to sharing electricity with Germany is growing, although Economy Minister Habeck made a deal in January for a hydrogen pipeline between the two countries to produce electricity. The Norwegians argue that the generated wind power is exclusively for their country and they do not want to share it. A spokesman emphasized that it was “their wind” (Berliner-Zeitung: 02.05.23).

Norway as Europe’s leading oil and gas producer: Resistance to energy supplies to Germany grows

According to the Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), the Scandinavian country produced an impressive 2022 million standard cubic meters of oil and gas in 232, making it the leading producer in the European Economic Area. Norway has abundant fossil mineral resources, but also ideal conditions for the production of green electricity and green hydrogen. In view of this, it seems obvious that Norway would give up a piece of the pie. However, there seems to be growing resistance among Norwegians to their role as Germany’s number one energy supplier, while Germans would like to stick to the existing partnership.

Norway has one of the highest per capita electricity consumption in the world with almost 22,400 kilowatt hours (kWh), while people in Germany consume less than 6,700 kWh per capita, according to the Energy & Climate Protection Foundation. Although Norway has electricity surpluses and was also cheaper in the past, the high consumption is now no longer justifiable. The head of analysis and consulting firm Rystad Energy, Jarand Rystad, explained that many people think there is more than enough electricity to meet their own needs, but that is now over.

Norwegian electricity price activist criticises high energy prices and electricity exports to Europe and announces resistance

Norway no longer seems to be willing to pay for the problems of other countries, as the price of electricity is apparently the reason for this. Especially in southern Norway, the increase in wholesale prices is above average, as the region is directly linked to the Central European market. The well-known Norwegian electricity price activist Olav Sylte criticises the fact that Norway exports electricity to Europe via these cables and thus also imports the high prices.

Norway as Europe’s leading oil and gas producer: Resistance to energy supplies to Germany grows
Image: KribCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sylte has made a name for himself by representing the victims of the large Ponzi schemes in Norway between 2002 and 2005. Now he is not only campaigning for lower energy prices, but is also fighting against the power cables that connect Norway to Germany and the UK. He has a large network, including the Facebook group “We demand cheaper electricity”, which has around 612,000 members.

Although gas continues to be exported to Norway, there is a limit to electricity that the activist and lawyer draws: “Our electricity should be used mainly for our country. […] It’s our Norwegian water, our Norwegian wind,” says Sylte.

Equinor and RWE enter into partnership for the construction of hydrogen power plants

At the beginning of the year, an energy partnership was announced, which provided for the construction of gas-fired power plants that would run on hydrogen. During his visit to Norway in January, Economics Minister Robert Habeck said that the hydrogen should come from Norway. As a result, the Norwegian energy supplier Equinor and the Essen-based energy group RWE entered into a strategic partnership, which was accompanied by Habeck and the Norwegian Minister of State at the signing. Part of the memorandum of understanding was the construction of a hydrogen pipeline between the countries by 2030.

Despite criticism and increasing resistance from the population, Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland defended the decision. He emphasized that Norway is dependent on foreign electricity and that going it alone would not make sense. It is important that Europe sticks together. Aasland said: “If we were to cut the cables to Central Europe, we would have to build even more power plants here to ensure our supply at all times.”

Norway’s renewable energies in focus: hydropower as the frontrunner

Norway currently produces almost exclusively renewable electricity, with hydropower taking the top spot at 88 percent, playing a central role among renewable energies, as reported by AHK Norway.

Despite the high production of green electricity and exports of electricity and hydrogen, Norway had not been spared from the energy crisis. The price of electricity rose sharply on the stock exchange and amounted to around 2022 euros/mWh in July 250 compared to just under 50 euros/mWh in July 2021. Nevertheless, the Norwegian electricity price remains on average lower than the German price, which was 2022 euros/mWh in July 450. Norway therefore remains an important player in renewable energy production and has a lot of potential to make its contribution to global climate protection in the future.

Norway’s demand for electricity is increasing – nationalisation of the gas pipeline network as a plan B?

Statnett, the state-owned grid operator, predicts a significant increase in Norway’s electricity demand, although the price of electricity seems to be recovering this year. According to a market analysis, electricity demand will increase from the current level of around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) over the next five years to 164 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2027, without a corresponding increase in electricity generation. This will lead to a negative net energy balance in 2027.

That is why Norway has already considered a Plan B. With existing concessions expiring in 2028, Norway plans to nationalize most of its gas pipeline network, according to Aasland’s oil and energy ministry. The goal is to strengthen control over the key infrastructure. However, there is still no exact information about the reasons for this plan.