Global warming to bring more rain to hydro-dependent Norway

OSLO Fri Feb 8, 2013 3:07pm EST

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OSLO (Reuters) - Global warming is likely to bring more rain to hydro-dependent Norway, giving a further boost to power production that reached a record high last year due to ample rainfall, the government said in a report on Friday.

Norway's power generation reached 146 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2012, as hydro inflows from rain and snow melt were 5 TWh above normal, Norway's Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) said. Hydro power accounted for 97 percent of production.

During the past century, precipitation in Norway has risen by about 20 percent, and that trend is expected to continue.

"The extent of the flooding and landslides in Norway is expected to increase as a result of more precipitation and more intense rainfall," the government said in the report on long-term challenges.

"Meanwhile, more precipitation can result in higher production of hydroelectric power, and milder winters will lead to lower fuel costs," it added.

"Most studies show that climate change will lead to an increase in the average annual inflow to power plants in Norway, and thereby increase the production potential for hydropower," said Hege Hisdal, head of hydrologic modeling at NVE.

Weekly precipitation levels, measured in terms of hydro energy available for power production, rose by about 13 percent from 1995 to 2013 in Norway, data from Point Carbon, a Thomson Reuters company, showed.

"So there is a clear increasing trend," said Bjorn Sonju-Moltzau, a hydrologist at Point Carbon. "We expect precipitation levels that can be used for power generation to increase by 10-15 percent during the next 10-20 years."

About half of all electricity production in the Nordic power market comes from hydro power.

Hydro production in the region could increase by about 10 percent during the period 2021-2050 from 1961-1990, a reference period to measure climate change, a study commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers, showed last year.

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