Statnett Faults IEA’s 100 Terawatt-Hour Power Export Estimate

Statnett SF, Norway’s grid company, cast doubt on an estimate by the International Energy Agency’s forecasts for annual 100 terawatt-hour power exports from the Nordic region.

The Nordic countries could ship as much as 100 terawatt-hours of electricity abroad each year by 2050, if the region expands wind power production and boosts grid connections, the International Energy Agency said on its website on Nov. 21.

“This differs significantly from our outlook for the next 10 or 20 years,” Kristian Pladsen, senior vice president of communications at Statnett, said today by e-mail.

For the IEA estimate to materialize, the Nordic region will need as many as 20 to 25 cross-border cables, since power generally tends flow from the north to continental Europe two thirds of the time, and in the other direction the rest of time, resulting in net power exports using 33 percent of installed cable capacity, according to Statnett’s calculations.

At present Norway is linked to the Netherlands through the 700-megawatt NorNed cable, while Sweden is connected to Poland via a 600-megawatt SwePol link, and to Germany via the 600-megawatt Baltic Cable.

Statnett is part of a group that plans to build a 1,400-megawatt undersea cable from Germany to Norway by 2018, followed by a 1,400-megawatt link to the U.K. in 2020, both of which will allow Norway to export excess hydropower output and allow Germany and the U.K. to offset intermittent production from wind and solar power, according to the company.

“From a medium-term perspective” the current grid expansion plans will secure adequate cross-border flows and help offset variations in regional power demand and supply over days, seasons and years, according to Statnett.

In the event that Nordic power prices should be lower than in surrounding countries “all year and around the clock”, it will attract more local demand from heavy industries, and by turn limit exports to the continent, according to Statnett.

“We think power will continue to flow in both directions, due to periods of low prices both in the Nordic region and on the continent,” Pladsen said.

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