The flexibility of hydropower
Hydropower plants have the potential to change energy production rapidly. Behind the large dams, a lot of water can be stored in the reservoirs, so that the power plant always has access to water. In a few seconds, you can change how much water passes through the turbines, which changes energy production. This is the great advantage of hydropower and what we call "the flexibility of hydropower".
Some hydropower plants are so-called pumped storage power plants, which can produce when electricity prices are high and exploit lower electricity prices to pump the water back into the reservoir.
A renewable society generates both new revenues and costs
The Norwegian power system has more grid connections to Sweden, and with more interconnectors abroad, we are also more closely connected to Europe. Thus, energy production and the transition to renewable energy production in Europe will also be important for how we operate our hydropower plants here in Norway. It is the prices in the power market that determine how hydropower plants are operated. When there is cheap electricity in Europe, hydropower plants can be shut down, we can import electricity and save water for a period of higher prices. Alternatively, pumped storage power plants can be used to pump water back into the reservoir.
More frequent start-ups, stops or changes in production in hydropower the plants take a toll on the turbine and generator that produces electricity. Increased maintenance costs must therefore be taken into account when planning production from hydropower plants.
Norway can lead the energy transition
Access to energy from hydropower has contributed greatly to value creation in Norway and has been crucial for the establishment of power-intensive industry, such as smelters, in Norway. Norway is in a unique position in the world, as our power production is mainly already renewable hydropower with a large storage capacity. This makes it easier to integrate new production from, for example, offshore wind.
Thus, everything is in place for renewable energy production to be Norway's competitive advantage also in the future, where power-intensive production of, for example, batteries and hydrogen will play an important role in the transition to a renewable power system in the rest of the world.