Limited access to renewable energy restricts green industrial development in Viken

More and more often we hear that “the grid is full”, but what does this mean for green industry development? THEMA has mapped the availability of renewable energy for industrial parks in Viken. In most areas, we see that it is not possible to connect industries with higher consumption to the power grid until it is reinforced.

Mangel på fornybar energi begrenser grønn næringsutvikling i Viken-regionen

Recently, it has become clear that for several regions in Norway, insufficient capacity in the power grid will pose a challenge for green industrial development in the future. Local authorities see the need to consider planning and energy access more comprehensively than before. At the same time, they have previously lacked important information: which areas are affected, how significant is the gap, and how many years until the situation is improved?

THEMA has assisted the former Viken County (Østfold, Akershus and Buskerud) in mapping the access to emission-free energy for regionally important industrial areas, looking at access to electricity, district heating and biogas. We have mapped both the current capacity in the power grid as well as when new grid capacity will be in place. Additionally, we have described what can be done to ensure green industry development when the capacity in the power grid is limited.

Industrial actors with higher energy needs must wait

  • Except in Hallingdal, the Follo region, and one of the industrial parks in Ringerike, it is not possible to connect big energy consumers until the power grid is reinforced around 2030.
  • In Østfold and large parts of Akershus, it is not possible to connect industries with higher power needs to the power grid until upgrades are in place around 2027-2035. The exceptions in Akershus are the Follo region and parts of the Ringerike region, where there is likely some available grid capacity.
  • In Buskerud, the situation is somewhat better, with the possibility of connecting larger consumption in the Hallingdal region. The situation for the other regions of Drammen, Kongsberg, and the Ringerike region is tense, but new capacity is planned to be built that will improve the situation around 2025-2030.
  • There are biogas plants in the vicinity of almost all the mapped industrial areas, and there is district heating in most municipal regions.

More areas will be suitable for businesses with higher energy needs when investments are ready

Investments in the power grid that are currently planned or under construction will make several areas suitable for green industrial development requiring larger amounts of electricity. It may be advantageous to locate businesses and industries with high electricity needs near Statnett’s transmission network stations. The figure below provides an overview of where these are located. Many of these stations are currently being upgraded and will have good capacity when they are ready.

  • In Akershus, this applies to areas around the stations Liåsen, which will be built at Klemetsrud in Oslo municipality, and Frogner. Gardermoen, Lillestrøm, and Nittedal will have good grid capacity when the Frogner station is upgraded. Increased capacity to the area is also planned (2028-2030).
  • In Østfold, this applies to areas around Hasle (north of Sarpsborg), Halden, and the Follo region down to Moss, which will have good capacity due to the new transmission network station at Liåsen.
  • In Buskerud, this applies to areas near the upgraded stations Ringerike and the new Eiker station, which will replace the Flesaker station. Additionally, it applies to areas located along the axis between Asker – Drammen – Eiker – Kongsberg, the area between Asker and Ringerike, and areas near Sandvika and towards the Ringerike area.

Mangel på fornybar energi begrenser grønn næringsutvikling i Viken-regionen 1


What can be done in the meantime while waiting for new capacity in the power grid?

Industrial players can invest in new local power production themselves. This will not make the consumer independent of the power grid but can help reduce the need for grid capacity. Due to space and cost, it is unrealistic to produce volumes that will have a significant impact. Because new renewable power production is intermittent, it does not deliver evenly throughout the year and day. Therefore, there is a need to combine several solutions, such as solar panels, wind turbines, generators, and batteries.

More relevant are thermal solutions. Fuel boilers and district heating can be used instead of electricity when there is a lack of grid capacity. For some types of industries, alternative energy supply will significantly reduce the need for grid capacity. The figure below shows how an actor can reduce the need for grid capacity by using sources other than electricity for heating. This way, the allocated grid capacity is released for purposes that must be covered by electricity, which also has a flatter power consumption and thus utilises the grid capacity better.

Mangel på fornybar energi begrenser grønn næringsutvikling i Viken-regionen 2


What should the counties and municipalities do?

Counties and municipalities play a significant role in contributing to energy transition through green industry development. In the report, we provide our recommendations for what local authorities can do to facilitate increased access to renewable energy where it is needed.

An important point is to ensure comprehensive and coordinated planning with cooperation across municipalities. It is essential to consider energy access, capacity, and infrastructure when planning, establishing, and developing industrial parks. Local authorities and grid companies must engage in each other’s processes and should establish a forum for early clarifications between the parties.

Energy efficiency and the use of alternative energy sources for heating have the potential to free up capacity in the power grid for industrial purposes with flatter consumption than ordinary supply. County municipalities and municipalities can play a role in working to ensure that such solutions are implemented.

Related articles

More articles