Norway Overtakes France as Europe’s Biggest Electricity Exporter

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Norway sent almost a fifth of its power generation abroad during the second half of 2020 to make it the biggest net exporter of electricity in Europe, surpassing France.

Norway took the top spot as its hydroelectric producers had to boost output to avoid overfilled dams bursting during unusually wet weather, according to energy consultants Enappsys Ltd. By contrast, France’s nuclear power stations, the main source of the nation’s electricity, struggled with extended maintenance halts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Norwegian power prices remained low, which made it an attractive economic proposition for other countries to meet their electricity demand by taking some of the excess from Norway,” Alena Nispel, an analyst at Enappsys, said in a statement. Its leading position “could remain for some time, especially with neighboring countries such as Denmark relying on Norway for supplies.”

Norway Overtakes France as Europe’s Biggest Electricity Exporter

Europe is focusing on building links between nations to make the most of green resources like wind in the north and solar in the south. Being able to export electricity gives producers a market for their generation in times of surplus, while the ability to import can lower market prices for regions with less supply.

The excess hydro generation meant the Nordic region at times had some of the lowest power prices in the world during the period.

Norway’s role as power exporter comes even as it pushes to electrify everything from transport to heating and industry. Five million Norwegian consumers use about the same amount of power as 10 million in neighboring Sweden, a situation exacerbated by the latest bout of freezing winter weather in the region.

Germany was both the biggest gross exporter and gross importer for the period, making it a hub for power flows across Europe. A new cable to Norway that started in December, the first direct link between the two countries, could see that role strengthening in the coming years.

The biggest net importer was Italy, which turned to Switzerland for most of its power shipments when France cut exports due to its reduced nuclear capacity.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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