Generation - Status today

Norway’s electricity generation comes almost exclusively from hydropower (96%). The total installed hydro generation capacity is 29 600 MW (2011), with a maximum available winter capacity of approx. 25 000 MW. The hydropower generation is mainly concentrated in the North and Southwest of Norway and depends on the annual precipitation which may vary greatly from year to year. The average yearly energy generation is of approx. 123.5 TWh/year (with an average utilization time of 4,200 hours). There are 1250 hydro power plants currently in operation in Norway.

The installed power plant capacity varies from 1240 MW (Kvilldal power station) to less than 1 MW. The total installed capacity in reservoir power stations is 23 405 MW. High-head power stations are often built inside the mountain, near the reservoirs – the power station and reservoirs are connected by tunnels and pipes down the mountainside.

The total reservoir capacity in Norway is 85 TWh (or 62 bill. m3) and this accounts for about 70% of the average yearly electricity generation capacity. In Norway, there are currently 9 pumped-storage units in operation with a total capacity of approx. 1336 MW and approximately 24 pumping units (located around the largest reservoirs in the South-West) with a total capacity of approx. 87 MW.The existing pumped-storage units are mostly used for seasonal energy storage.

The use of the Norwegian hydropower potential is limited by various restrictions. When a watercourse is used for hydropower development, conflicts may arise between a number of user groups and environmental interests. Extensive legislation relating to hydropower provides requirements for obtaining licenses for various purposes. The most important elements in the framework for hydropower development are the protection plans for water resources, the Master Plan for Water Resources, the Industrial Licensing Act, the Watercourse Regulation Act and the Water Resources Act

Facts and figures on hydropower generation in Norway (types of power plants (location), annual generation capacity, etc.) can be found on NVE's (Norwegian Water and Energy Directorate) webpage. Check for example: Energy status and Atlas of hydropower plants (both in Norwegian).