Electricity exports from Norway may be slashed in the coming months due to a hydropower shortage
Norway may reduce electricity exports to the UK due to low water levels that threaten domestic hydroelectric power output, The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday, citing Oslo's Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland.
According to the report, Aasland told the Norwegian parliament on Monday that water levels in the country's reservoirs were falling below the seasonal average due to dry weather, and Norway should prioritise refilling water dams over power production and exports.
Aasland said electricity production in southern Norway has already dropped 18% compared to last year, while output last week in the southwest was the lowest so far this year.
"This results in historically high electricity prices and a situation where, for the first time in many years, we cannot completely rule out a period of electricity rationing in the spring," he was quoted as saying. The minister noted that rationing was unlikely this winter, but interruptions to supplies are expected next April or May.
The situation is likely to affect the UK, which receives hydropower from Norway via the North Sea Link cable, able to carry up to 1.4 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power about 5% of UK households.
If Norway does ration its power exports, UK consumers could face even higher bills and potential energy shortages this winter, the report states, citing consultancy firm Aurora Energy Research.
Analysts predict that in such a scenario the UK National Grid would have to switch on two coal-fired plants - Drax in West Yorkshire and EDF's West Burton A facility in Nottinghamshire - which are currently on standby.
"This would cause power prices [in the UK] to rise, due to the higher costs of generating power using coal, compared to hydropower imported from Norway," the Aurora researchers said.
The UK gas and electricity price cap for households, which is set quarterly by the energy industry regulator Ofgem, last month reached a record of Pound 1,971 ($2,390) per year. However, Aurora analysts say this figure could top Pound 4,000 ($4,847) early next year.
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