Why the ‘Battery of Europe’ threatens to exacerbate Britain’s winter energy crisis.
But this link – and others between Norway and its neighbours – is fast becoming a toxic issue for politicians in Oslo as its electricity prices rocket.
Norway’s energy troubles do not stem from a dependence on Russian natural gas. An abundance of mountain plateaus, natural lakes and fjords has allowed it to generate almost all of its electricity through hydropower for decades, backed up by small amounts of gas and wind power generation.
It is also the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world, behind only Russia and Qatar, leading some to describe Norway as the “battery of Europe”.
Now, however, as Europe faces an energy crisis in the wake of Putin’s invasion, foreign demand for Norway’s power is having a stark impact on its consumers.
Morten Frisch, a Norwegian energy consultant based in the UK, says prices this year have typically been 10 to 20 times higher than previously, adding: “This is not something people can afford to pay”.
While electricity can cost €2 per megawatt (£1.69) for households in northern areas, prices in south western Norway can be €550 per megawatt, according to Frisch.
The toll on Norway is not just financial, however. It relies on reservoirs to feed its hydroelectric plants, mostly refilled by rain or melting snow. Following a dry spell during the spring and summer, the reservoirs were last month reduced to a 20-year low of 46pc of capacity in the south west.
“This is not something you can just fill up at will,” Frisch explains. “When they run dry, they run dry, and it’s likely to take a minimum of three months, possibly six months, before they can be refilled by rain.