New Power Consumption
Traditionally, households, service industries and industry have been the largest users of electricity in Norway. These sectors will continue to be major users of electricity in the future, but there will also be new consumer groups.
The petroleum industry is the industry with the greatest growth in electricity consumption over the past decade and it is expected that electricity in this industry will continue to grow. Transport is another sector where electricity is expected to increase in the future. Over the next 20 to 30 years, large parts of the transport sector can switch from fossil fuels to different types of renewable fuels. Data centers are also a consumer group in Norway that can become major power users in the future.
The Petroleum Industry
Start-up of the gas treatment plant at Kollsnes and electrification of the Troll platform in the 1990s started the growth of electricity in the petroleum industry. In 2007, the gas plant at Nyhamna in Møre og Romsdal was started with electricity from the power grid in mainland Norway. The gas plant at Melkøya in Finnmark started in 2009 and further increased electricity consumption in the petroleum industry. This plant covers over 90 percent of the electricity demand from its own gas power plant. In recent years, the Gjøa and Valhall platforms in the North Sea have also received electricity from land. In total, 7 TWh of electricity was consumed from the petroleum industry in 2015.
In 2016, the oil platform Goliat outside Finnmark was put into operation with electricity from land. Extensions of land facilities, pressure support for gas fields offshore and electrification of the oil installations on Utsirahøyden will further increase electricity consumption in the petroleum industry in the future. Forecasts from oil companies indicate that the peak in electricity in the petroleum sector will be reached in 2022 or 2023, with an annual consumption of around 10 TWh and since sinking by 2030.
In the future, another area of potential large increases in electricity consumption is data centers. These are major centers for storing data. Data is transferred over the internet to data centers for storage and retrieved in the same way. With sufficient leased lines, data centers can be geographically far away from the users of the data. Good fiber connections are therefore a prerequisite for such data centers to function.
Data centers are very energy consuming and the largest have power needs of several hundred MW and use more TWh electricity a year. It takes a lot of electricity both for operation and cooling of the servers. Countries with cold climate and good access to electricity are therefore well suited for localization of data centers. Users of the centers are also dependent on high reliability at any given time, so that countries with stable economic and political systems and low likelihood of natural disasters are favorable countries for the establishment of data centers.
The Nordic countries point out as areas with good conditions for the establishment of such centers, with good access to electricity, cool climate and stable political and economic systems. Google, Facebook and Apple have already established centers in our neighboring countries, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, with power requirements from 0.5 TWh to 1.5 TWh per center.
Norway has currently no such large data centers, but has three medium-sized centers in Digiplex, Green Mountain and Evry. In addition, new data center is being planned / built in Måløy, Sogn og Fjordane, Vennesla in West Agder and Eide in Nordmøre. All in all, these data centers have a power requirement of around 100 MW at full operation from 2017/2018. With expected operation in all hours of the year, this corresponds to a power plant of 800 - 900 GWh per year.
The Swedish Power Company Vattenfall has estimated that data centers with power requirements of around 6 GW will be built in Europe over the next ten years and that about a third of this can end up in the Nordic region. According to ICT Norway, several major IT companies have shown an interest in establishing data centers in Norway. They estimate that data centers with a potential power requirement from 200 to 1000 MW, and electricity consumption of 1.5 to 8.6 TWh, can establish themselves in Norway in the next few years, given the appropriate framework conditions.