Norway will scale back its electricity exports if domestic stocks threaten to fall too low. This is evident from a plan proposed by the government on Friday.

Norway gets the majority of its electricity production from about 1,700 hydroelectric power plants. The country is therefore also referred to as the green battery of Europe. The Netherlands and Germany in particular are highly dependent on Norwegian electricity, while the United Kingdom also gets a tenth of its electricity from Norway.

Norway also has about a thousand storage reservoirs, which together can store 70 percent of Norway’s annual electricity consumption. They are gradually filling up again, but as a result of the energy crisis in Europe, they are still below the level of the long-term average for this time of year.

Less exports

When electricity prices in Europe peaked in August, the Norwegian government had already announced that it would be exporting less electricity to ensure domestic supplies. On Friday, the government presented a concrete plan.

“The new management mechanism means more demands are placed on the producers in situations where there is a prospect of storage reaching a low level,” said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store. “This can limit the output.” Hydroelectric power plants must therefore primarily contribute to the energy supply in Norway and the government can even intervene in the event of an imminent shortage.

Controversial decision

The decision is controversial. Norway is not a member of the European Union, but as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), it is part of the internal energy market. According to the rules, countries are not allowed to restrict electricity exports to neighboring countries for longer periods.

There has also been criticism from its own network operator Energinet. According to Johannes Bruun, director responsible for the electricity market, open borders are the key to maintaining the energy supply. “The whole narrative in Norway is wrong,” he told the NTB news agency, while he says it will be legally difficult to actually restrict exports.

The Norwegian government made it clear on Friday that its plan does indeed fall within European rules.

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