– Area to increase hydroelectric power production

– Area to increase hydroelectric power production

This is a discussion post at the expense of the article's author.

Written by Hans Peter Ribo, Director, Electricity and Energy Branch, Norwegian Industry

Even if Statkraft and Å Energi realize all the recently announced upgrade plans, there will be significant untapped potential for hydropower production in Norway. Moreover, it seems that there are many years before the projects actually arrive, and they can be accelerated if you really want to.

Both parts are positive news, because Norway needs more production and energy faster.

Statkraft and Å Energi recently launched plans to invest in hydropower in Norway. Lyse has applied for a Røldal-Suldal license in 2023. This is positive and needed, and there is talk of a new wave of hydropower. But unfortunately, it does not seem to us that there will be a wave of projects in the near future, so what can be done to accelerate and improve good projects and for new projects to come to the best in light of the compressed energy situation?

There are major debates about how to “rig” the Norwegian energy system and which energy sources are most suitable (take for example the discussions about offshore wind, onshore wind and nuclear energy). The main challenges facing Norway's energy supply that must be resolved moving forward are:

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  • Energy deficit
  • Energy deficit
  • Network capacity
  • Network stability (security of supply)

– Hydropower plays an absolutely central role in the Norwegian energy system today and in the future, and it is important that this part of the infrastructure is continuously updated. Knut E says: Sunde, acting CEO of Norsk Industri, said that the use of Norwegian hydropower resources, both in the short and long term, can and should be significantly improved.

Hydropower is a flexible and accessible energy source, and Norway has a wide range of adjustable water reservoirs, hydroelectric power stations that can start and stop production in a short time and the ability to produce energy as needed. This is well suited for the energy systems of the future, which will combine flexible hydropower with unregulated energy production from wind and solar. Many facilities can also be expanded within the mountain without “taking over” large natural areas.

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Security, maintenance and upgrades

Climate change is contributing to the increased demand and need for dam safety. Rainfall records are constantly being set, and floods and high water flows occur frequently. These are also arguments for the importance of good maintenance and modernization of waterways and power plants. It has also become clear that the power system is a safety-sensitive infrastructure that deserves a high level of preparedness.

Norsk Industri Hydropower Forum It has been determined that for hydropower plants with a capacity of more than 100 MW, there are approx. 40 percent have not been promoted in more than 30 years. This number is higher for those with capacities between 10 MW and 100 MW. Therefore, there is a large backlog of revisions and upgrades to existing power plants. At the same time, today's magazine business is exposed to a completely different dynamic leadership style with frequent start/stop and regulation than was the case 10-15 years ago. A modern machinery group is required to be able to do this in the long term. (Read more about hydropower at NVE.)

More investments – uncertain when production will arrive

Statkraft announced on January 8 energy upgrades at hydropower plants that will provide between 1,500 and 2,500 MW until 2030. The projects in question are:

  • Sven in Nidelven in Trondheim
  • (Moranger in Kvinherad).
  • A third turbine in Alta and Aura in Sindal

Moreover, it is reported that Statkraft works systematically on the entire hydropower portfolio, evaluating 10-15 hydropower projects that may be relevant for the development of new energy production and production. It was announced that between 20 and 35 billion Norwegian kroner will be allocated to modernize and rebuild Norwegian hydroelectric power plants, and 14 to 20 billion Norwegian kroner to rehabilitate dams and modernize old power plants.

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It is of course very positive that Statkraft has confirmed that it will invest a lot in Norwegian hydropower in the future, but it seems not certain that a license will be applied for any of the projects in 2024. On the whole, the time horizon for investment is open, as Europower indicated. Everyone knows that the license processing time has historically been many years, so it is difficult to believe any contribution to production for 2030. The announced hydropower projects will contribute less than 0.5 TWh, most of which will come through capacity increases and dam protection. However, Statkraft's clear investment in Norwegian hydropower is positive, and less than 20 percent of Statkraft's investments last year were in the Nordic region, and almost half of this again is mandatory investments in dam safety.

Great upgrade possibilities

Before Christmas, Lyse and Hydro applied for a license for five new hydropower stations. Investments for the Røldal-Suldal upgrade could reach NOK 8 billion. The planned investment means it could go from 6,000 hours of use per year to 3,000, but still produce more electricity with the same amount of water. This will help the power plant keep prices low during peak hours. A single power plant can make a huge difference in price during peak hours.

Å Energi announced that more than 20 billion will go to the electricity grid, and 11-12 billion to hydropower. Among others, facilities in Steinsfoss, Iveland and Nomeland will be upgraded. The largest single investment the company is working on is the pumped power plant at the Hollin Power Station in Paykel.

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During the next ten years, we will invest between 1 and 1.5 billion annually in hydroelectric energy. This will be distributed between modernizing existing facilities, as well as developing new projects, Å Energi CEO Steffen Sivertsen said in a press release on January 11.

The hydropower supplier industry is critical to the planning and implementation of future hydropower projects. At short notice, they can assist in cases of operational disruptions or other incidents at power plants. As with other industries, the supplier industry needs stable framework conditions and predictability for its business and to be able to invest.

– We look forward to planning, discussing concepts and implementing hydropower projects in the future. The supplier industry needs it, the energy system needs it, says Knut E Sund.

Predictability is essential

The further development of our industry will depend on more power, energy and line capacity with the greatest possible predictability, both:

  • Reinvestment in existing power plants, significant build-up, maintenance and modernization with new technology.
  • Expansions: Increase power, build new power plants next to old ones – while increasing power.
  • Increasing energy production, terawatt-hours – through building new plants (green fields), more water harvesting, new power plants in relation to flood protection, improving old ones, etc.

We very much hope that the announcements of Lyse, Statkraft, Å Energi and others will be followed up in practice, and not least that Eviny, Hafslund Eco and other energy companies will follow up in terms of production, more energy, modernization and modernisation.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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