July 4, 2018 / 4:54 PM / 3 months ago

Norway turns to power imports after dry spring hits hydropower reserves

OSLO, July 4 (Reuters) - Norway has become a net power importer from Denmark and Sweden this summer, after a warm and dry spring reduced the nation’s hydropower reserves and drove up Norwegian power prices, the grid operator said on Wednesday.

Norway’s reservoirs have received rainfall in 2018 that is equivalent to 22 terrawatt hours (TWh) less than a normal year, a shortfall equivalent to the energy needs of 1.1 million households, or half of Norway’s population.

“Most of the imported power comes from Denmark and Sweden, which had a surplus of wind power,” Norway’s state-owned grid Statnett said in a statement, adding that it was the first summer in several years that Norway was a net power importer.

“Given the snowy winter we had, it may seem strange that we are in such a situation,” it said.

Although Norway’s reservoirs, at 61.7 percent full last week, are at a marginally higher level than the same period last year, most of the snow has already melted due to the unusually warm spring so there is less water being added.

Warm, dry conditions have also led to more evaporation.

“Dry weather is still expected and the hydrological balance ... is expected to deteriorate further in the short term,” it said.

Last year Norway’s reservoirs peaked at 86.6 percent full. Experts say the peak this year is likely to be far lower.

Lower water levels mean electricity will cost much more for consumers, making it cheaper to import power. The price of Norwegian power this summer exceeded 45 euros per megawatt hour, nearly double last year’s level.

“The fact that we have the opportunity to import surplus power from our neighbouring countries means that we can exploit each other’s energy systems and save on Norwegian water resources when needed,” Statnett said.

Editing by Edmund Blair

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