Can Europe benefit from using Norway as a green battery?

 Publisert 12.02.2016

A new German study has looked into the profitability and feasibility of using Norwegian hydropower to balance wind and solar power in Europe. CEDREN is now using the results to look at the profitability for Norwegian hydropower producers.

Last fall, German researchers from RWTH Aachen University visited Trondheim. In collaboration with the CEDREN project HydroBalance they have performed a study to look at the economic feasibility of using Norwegian hydropower to balance energy production and demand in Europe. From left: Andreas Schaefer, Michaela Harasta (E.ON), Christoph Baumann and Andreas Maaz.
Last fall, German researchers from RWTH Aachen University visited Trondheim. In collaboration with the CEDREN project HydroBalance they have performed a study to look at the economic feasibility of using Norwegian hydropower to balance energy production and demand in Europe. From left: Andreas Schaefer, Michaela Harasta (E.ON), Christoph Baumann and Andreas Maaz.

The increasing use of solar and wind power leads to a rising need to store energy for periods with lower energy production. In collaboration with the CEDREN project HydroBalance, German researchers from RWTH Aachen University have performed a study to look at the economic feasibility of using Norwegian hydropower to balance energy production and demand in Europe.

“Adding the effects for producers and users in all countries, it is profitable for Europe in total,” concludes SINTEF researcher Ove Wolfgang, who leads the part of HydroBalance related to this study.

Studies of different scenarios for 2050 shows that the degree of profitability depends on the flexibility of the European power system.

 

Massive expansion of transmission cables necessary

 “It will only work if we get a massive expansion of transmission cables,” says Andreas Schaefer, who led the study for the Institute of Power Systems and Power Economics (IAEW) at RWTH Aachen University.

The necessary transmission capacity over the North Sea to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark is almost 30 GW in the different scenarios, according to the report. This corresponds to approximately a tripling of the transmission capacity we will get when including the two new cables Statnett plans to build to England and Germany.

 

The profitability for Norwegian hydropower producers

The German researchers calculated the power prices for all countries, including Norway, when performing the study. These prices CEDREN is using in further modelling.

Through a case study in Otra the Norwegian researchers looked at the profitability of investing in Norwegian pumped hydro storage towards 2050.

“Based on historical prices such an investment is not profitable, but in a future scenario with an integrated European power system it is profitable,” Wolfgang summarizes.


Financed by German power company

The German power company E.ON financed the study, as a contribution to the CEDREN-project HydroBalance.

“We are cooperating with CEDREN to learn more about the technological and economic feasibility of this in 2050, to maybe have some business opportunities,” says Michaela Harasta in E.ON.

 

Good combination with wind and solar power

In addition to looking at how Europe in general can benefit from using Norway as a green battery, the researchers also looked specifically at how Germany and German power companies can benefit from using Norwegian storage capacity.

“There are definitely advantages from additional storage capacity from Norwegian hydropower, and it is a good combination with wind and solar power, Schaefer says.”

 

Useful collaboration

“The collaboration has been fruitful, and we have learned much,” Christoph Baumann (RWTH Aachen University) says, and adds that it is important with a collaboration between researchers if we are to have more European power collaboration in the future.

Their Norwegian colleagues agrees.

“We have benefited from the academic exchanges, concludes Atle Harby, centre director in CEDREN.

 

Read the report: Value of large-scale balancing and storing from Norwegian hydropower for the German power system and generation portfolios

Contact: Ove Wolfgang (SINTEF)

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