Ukraine: Energy may cause ‘fragmentation’ of unity says Melvin
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Norway is responsible for around 60 percent of the UK’s total gas demand, and amid Russian supply cuts Britain may have been more grateful to rely on the Nordic nation for its energy exports. While only getting four percent of its supplies from Russia, the UK was still exposed to the supply shocks, despite perhaps avoiding the blackout risks nations like Germany, which gets 40 percent of its gas from Russia.
While Norway has been blessed with a strong source of domestic supplies, Oslo too has been exposed to the skyrocketing global price shocks, with boosted demand for Norwegian supplies sending energy costs soaring.
According to Morten Frisch, a Norwegian energy consultant based in the UK, increased demand for Oslo’s power sent prices in Norway soaring 10 to 20 times higher than before.
And a 600,000-strong Facebook group named Vi som krever billigere strøm (meaning “we who demand cheaper electricity”) have unleashed fury at the “price contagion” that has spread from Britain.
They have demanded that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre takes action to “limit exports when the degree of hydroelectric water reservoir filling is below a certain level”.
It comes after a boosted demand for its exports, coupled with low water reservoir levels following a dry spell during spring and summer which left vital hydroelectric power plants with low supplies.
And as nearly all of Norway’s electricity is generated through hydropower, it may well be less inclined to send supplies through the 450-mile interconnector linking the country to Britain.
This connection also plays a vital role in the National Grid’s ability to keep the lights on in the UK when domestic electricity generation is low.
While this situation is not linked directly to gas supplies, energy expert Jess Ralston has raised the alarm over weakened supplies travelling from Norway.
Ms Ralston, from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: “Higher gas prices in Europe mean higher gas prices in the UK, as until we wean ourselves off gas for good, we are part of global gas markets.
“Expensive wholesale gas will already add over £2,000 to our bills this year, and tighter supply means that this may rise again.
“So, the pressure will certainly be on the new Prime Minister to reduce our energy demand in the first place, by insulating our leaky homes for example, and building out more homegrown renewables so we are shielded from Putin turning on and off the gas taps.”
While experts have highlighted the importance of switching to renewables to avoid global gas price shocks, here Britain’s reliance on Norwegian green hydropower could also prove to be a problem.
The interconnector can provide the UK with enough electricity to power up to 1.4 million homes.
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Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland told Montel: “We are looking at how we limit exports in situations where reservoir filling becomes critically low.
“Then we must secure enough power for our national consumption.”
He added: “One solution we are working on is that when the levels, particularly in multi-year reservoirs, fall below the seasonal norm, exports will be limited accordingly or in relationship to this.
“Our job is to ensure that we have security of supply in Norway. It is completely legitimate, it is a matter of national interest and the Government’s responsibility.”
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