Norway – satisfying electricity demands through hydroelectric power generation

The concept of renewable energy is gaining favor throughout the world. Natural processes have the capability to create constant energy sources for the creation of electricity. However, In order to successfully produce energy from renewable resources there are several criteria which must be met with regard to efficient energy generation. These criteria may vary from the different energy sources, or may stay the same.

Norway is one of the leading producers and innovators in the world when it comes to creating electricity from moving water. The country has the perfect topography and climate for generation of hydroelectric energy. The warming effects of the Gulf Stream that runs along the Norwegian coast, coupled with the latitude results in abundant rainfall in the coastal areas.  The result are that their electricity prices in the metropolitan areas are highly dependent upon rainfall quantities.

Norway is one of the few developed countries that do not have any coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants. So how much of Norway’s electricity is generated from moving water? According to LVK and multiple other Norwegian sources, an average of 120 TWh of electricity is produced by hydroelectric power stations per year in Norway[2]. The number and capacity of hydroelectric power stations have increased drastically since the 1950’s. The installed effect in 1950 was roughly 3,000 MW, while in the year 2000 it had increased to 27,570 MW [2].  The number of hydroelectric power stations currently in Norway is around 1100 and their capacities, both individually and total continues to grow.

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Figure 1 [1]. Norway’s electricity production and consumption rates since the year 2000.

It is fairly intuitive from figure 1 above that all the electricity Norway produces is from hydroelectric power. During years when it has rained excessively, there has been a higher energy production than consumption resulting in exportation of the electricity to other countries. On the other hand, years with droughts have resulted in less energy production and hence importation of electricity from neighboring countries was needed to satisfy demands. Fossil fuels are used only for transportation and sometimes to heat homes, but the main source for electricity generation is hydroelectric.

Sources:

[1] Hafslund. (2013). Produksjon og forbruk I Norge. Retrieved on April 6th, 2013, from: http://www.hafslund.no/privat/artikler/les_artikkel.asp?artikkelid=659.

[2] LVK. (2009). Norsk vannkraftproduksjon – nøkkeltall. Retrieved April 6th, 2013, from: http://www.lundogco.no/no/LVK/Fagomrader/Vannkraftproduksjon/Nokkeltall—Oversikt-over-konsesjonssystemet-for-vannkraftproduksjon/.

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