“We are planning the power system for the period from 2030 and beyond,” says Gunnar Løvås, who is the group CEO for power systems & markets at Statnett. “At the same time, the recent unusual situation has resulted in major price differences between north and south in the Scandinavian region. Close cooperation between Statnett and our colleagues in Svenska kraftnät on measures regarding operation of the power system is producing results in terms of improved capacity and better grid usage. At the same time, we are planning long-term measures to ensure that the grid on both sides of the border is better equipped to deal with future challenges.”
The major price differences between the north and south of Norway over the past six months were due in part to the continuing development of wind power in the northern regions of Norway and Sweden, and also to periodic reductions in transfer capacity in the Swedish grid. At the same time, the extremely high European power prices have contributed to high prices in the southern parts of Norway and Sweden. In Norway, the situation has been made worse by low water levels in hydropower reservoirs, at the same time as there are indications that demand for electricity will increase in the years ahead.
The Norwegian and Swedish power systems are closely integrated and form part of the Nordic synchronous grid. Statnett and SvK are working together to implement measures to reduce price differences and improve transfer capacity between north and south.
Statnett planning development of its power system from 2030 and beyond
“In 2030, power consumption will be much greater than it currently is, due to the establishment of new industry and the electrification of society,” says group CEO Gunnar Løvås. “In order to meet this increased demand, Norway will need to generate much more power and improve the grid’s capacity to transfer electricity nationwide. We are now looking to see whether we could bring forward any of our plans for increasing capacity. However, boosting grid capacity takes a long time, and based on current plans, we will not be able to increase capacity significantly until around 2030.”
Planned work on the grid will improve overall transmission capacity between north and south
The planned activities in Sweden and Norway will improve overall north-south transmission capacity by 50–60 per cent. In Norway, this includes upgrading to 420 kV across Sognefjorden and all the way down Western Norway, from the south of Nordland and through Central Norway, and between Sunndalsøra and Oslo (Gudbrandsdalen). In Sweden, a series of improvements will, over time, result in significantly greater capacity in Central and Southern Sweden, and elsewhere.
“It is important to point out that the improvements to boost grid capacity between north and south will be made over time,” explains Løvås. “It is not simply a matter of stretching a long power cable between Northern and Southern Norway, but rather of multiple grid initiatives in various regions.”
Increased transmission between Sweden and Eastern Norway
“As a direct result of our cooperation with SvK, transmission capacity between Southern Sweden and Eastern Norway has increased significantly,” says Gunnar Løvås. “This is one of the short-term measures that will help to improve transmission capacity and potentially result in lower prices in the south of Norway.”
Over the coming year, the Nordic region will be introducing so-called flow-based market coupling, which will allow better use to be made of physical grid capacity. In many cases this will result in more capacity being available where the need is greatest, for example for carrying more power from north to south and increasing transmission at connection points that are currently bottlenecks.
Increased wind power generation in northern Sweden will contribute to a regional power surplus in the north
The current situation, with major price differences between the north and south of Norway, is exceptional and not expected to last. The extreme situation in the European power market is making the problem worse and having a considerable impact on price differences where transmission capacity is limited. Price differences between the pricing areas in Norway are usually relatively small. Looking ahead, we expect electricity prices to be somewhat lower in the north than in the south due to a growing regional power surplus in the north. This is largely attributable to increased wind power generation in Northern Sweden.