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The benefits and challenges for large expansion of Norwegian hydropower


The share of variable renewable electricity generation in Europe is increasing, and by 2050 the whole European electricity grid will be renewable. Norwegian hydropower has a large storage capacity in existing reservoirs that can be used for large-scale balancing and energy storage integrated with continental Europe and the UK. The HydroConnect research project is investigating how Norwegian hydropower can play a major role in climate change mitigation – and at the same time reduce both power prices and environmental impacts. We used Fraunhofer IEE’s Scenario Development modelling and optimisation framework (SCOPE SD ) to compute relevant future scenarios for Norwegian hydropower. Two different scenario streams are defined for all European scenarios: Baseline and Expanded. The Expanded cases assume an additional Norwegian hydropower turbine capacity of 11.2 GW including 5.2 GW of pump capacity, and an increased interconnector cable capacity of 13 GW for cross-border electricity exchange flows to and from Norway. The increase in capacity and pumped storage development will only use existing reservoirs with additional waterways between them. Norway has about 85TWh storage capacity in existing reservoirs, so it is possible to use this capacity much more frequent without compromising environmental impacts.
The HydroConnect project is not concluded yet, but we have already some main findings from the analysis with different scenarios of development of Norwegian hydropower. The main findings are summarised:

• With more interconnectors there will be less hydrogen production in Norway
• The models show net electricity export in all scenarios – least when we add increased Norwegian demand by extensive development of green industries
• There will be much more import and export with expanded system
• Due to the large development of wind power in Denmark and Sweden, there will be net import of electricity from these countries to Norway in several scenarios. However, there will be net export to the UK and Netherlands in all scenarios.

Impacts in Norwegian reservoirs and rivers will be investigated with special emphasize on environmental conditions in reservoirs for the large increase in capacity and pumped storage scenario. More results on the hydro operations, environmental impacts and electricity prices will be given in the presentation as they become available.


Academic lecture


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 320794
  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 257588




  • SINTEF Energy Research / Energisystemer
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Presented at

Hydro 2023




16.10.2023 - 18.10.2023


Aqua Media International



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