“We are planning 20 years ahead, towards an electric future. At the same time, we are expanding gradually. This means it is important to prioritise measures that are robust in terms of several development trends,” says Grete Westerberg, Vice President Portfolio Management at Statnett. In addition to being responsible for Statnett’s portfolio management, she is one of the key persons behind the 2013 Grid Development Plan, which summarises Statnett’s plans for the future.
“We have a 20-year planning horizon. For the first ten years, we are focusing on specific measures, detailing which power lines and substations we will commission in this period, whereas we are less specific when it comes to subsequent measures and into the next decade,” Westerberg says, though she has no doubt what the drivers will be also in the coming 20-30 years.
Climate and electricity consumption
Climate and renewables targets are very strong drivers, in Norway as well as in the rest of Europe. Choosing electricity as an energy carrier is essential to be able to meet the climate targets. Electricity is an energy carrier which today can be produced without emissions, if we choose the right technology.
“We rely on electricity for an increasing number of purposes. We expect an increase in prosperity and population, particularly in the major cities. New industry is also on the planning board many places in Norway, and we anticipate greater electrification of the petroleum industry,” says Westerberg, adding that all these drivers point towards electricity accounting for an increasing share of our energy consumption.
We have a 20-year planning horizon. For the first ten years, we are focusing on specific measures detailing which power lines and substations we will commission in this period.
Improved security of supply
The driver that has highest priority in the portfolio right now is to ensure a reliable supply of electricity. Many of the current projects are doing just that, such as the Sima-Samnanger project, which was completed last year, the Ørskog-Sogndal project, reinvestments in cables and substations, increased transformer capacity, as well as the Ofoten-Balsfjord project, for which Statnett received a licence last year.
“Many of these projects are also important for the renewables drive, increased electricity consumption and value creation,” Westerberg emphasises.
Commitment to renewable energy
Some of Statnett’s projects are mainly driven by a commitment to renewable energy, such as projects in Central Norway and connection of the planned wind power projects at Fosen and in Snillfjord.
“Here we have been granted a final licence. Now we are just waiting for the wind power players to make an investment decision. They must do so by the end of 2015 if Statnett is to have enough time to ensure that the grid is ready for commissioning by 2020. This is a condition for being granted certificates in the Swedish-Norwegian electricity certificate market,” she says.
There is a strong focus on renewables also on the Continent.
“The challenge is that a lot of the renewable initiatives in Europe are based on wind and solar power, which is unregulated production. Here Norway can play an important role, through more international interconnectors and our hydropower, which is highly flexible,” Westerberg says.
Last year, Statnett submitted two licence applications for new international interconnectors: one to Germany, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, and one to the UK, which will be ready in 2020. Furthermore, the Skagerrak interconnector is under construction and will enter service before the end of 2014.
Reaching our target for the future
Westerberg does not think that Norway’s “main grid of the future” will be completed long before 2030. However, she points out that Statnett has made a good start.
“We have stepped up the pace. Last year our grid investments totalled about five billion Norwegian Kroner. This level of investment, between five and seven billion Norwegian Kroner, including the international interconnections, will be the anticipated annual investment pace in the time ahead. Through efficient portfolio management we will make sure that we work on the right projects according to our mission and our strategy.”
Text: Morten Myrstad Photo: Marie Malvik, Sarepta