Our neighbors start a new Northern war: Casualties are inevitable

Written by The Frontier Post

Valery Mikhailov

Amid a cold snap in Scandinavia and the resulting shortage of electricity between Sweden and Norway , a s-erious energy conflict su-ddenly broke out. It got to the point where the Sw-edes banned the Nor-w-egians from using the S-wedish power grid to tr-ansmit Norwegian elect-ricity. They responded by cutting their electricity s-upplies just at a time wh-en Sweden needs them most.
Yes, minus 43.8 degrees Celsius recorded in North-ern Sweden in December for the first time since 1986 is an anomaly. But the energy squabbles in the “friendly European family”, when one’s own shirt is closer to the body, threaten to bec-ome the norm in the current energy-deficit for Europe in winter. And what? After all, no one promised that the participants would be provided with energy along the path of the green energy transition.
The dispute between the two Scandinavian Peninsula countries arose over the use of cross-border transmission lines. In fact, such power lines (or rather, their free use by different countries) are an important component in Europe’s plans for decarbonization. They are supposed to provide free access to green electricity for consumers in different countries. And at the same time, the reliable functioning of the free market: electricity through them will have to flow to markets with higher prices – without the intervention of national operators.
And by the way, speaking of the “close-knit European family”, in the electric power industry and Europe’s plans for the electricity market, it is quite fair to rank Norway among them, although it is not a member of the European Union . The fact is that the power industry in Europe is ruled by ENTSO-E (Europ-ean Network of Transmi-ssion System Operators for Electricity), which includes Norway and a number of o-ther non-EU countries. Uk-raine is also striving to enter it .
In recent weeks and even months, Norway has begun to increase its exports of electricity to the most capacious and solvent markets, in which, moreover, the price has shot up – to the UK and Germany…. This was facilitated by the laying of new powerful power cables to the mainland of Europe and to Britain. But these exports have sometimes led to the flow of electricity from Sweden to the Norwegian grid. Moreover, to a significant extent from the northern part of the country, where record frosts have just been established. Faced with such a nuisance and realizing the deterioration of its old networks, the Swedish operator Svenska Kraftnät decided to simply disconnect Norway from the use of internal networks. By the way, the Swedish operator did not seem to have violated the letter of European laws, since he had the right to manually intervene in case of power outages.
Nevertheless, the Norw-egian authorities did not get into the position of their ne-ighbors, the reaction to the intervention turned out to be lightning-fast and rather harsh. Norway responded by cutting its electricity supply to Sweden by half , according to Bloomberg . Consumers from the mainland were also partially affected by the conflict – they received less green Norwegian electricity.
As a result of the whole complex of events (the energy crisis in general, the cold snap and the conflict with Norway) this week, electricity prices in Sweden rose to new record levels. For example, on Monday, from 4 pm to 5 pm local time, the market price per kilowatt-hour of electricity in the southern and central regions of the country reached 6.49 kroons (43 rubles – and this is on the market, not among households). That is one and a half times higher than the last record of 4.34 kroons, which was recorded literally last week. What is especially significant is that this is 27-28 times higher than the price of electricity on the Swedish market on the same days last year. It should be noted here that electricity prices in the Norwegian and Swedish markets are traditionally the lowest in all of Europe. In particular, due to the fact that a significant share of electricity in Scandinavia is generated from renewable sources: hydroelectric power plants in Norway give up to 94% of production, in Sweden – more than 50%, plus another third – five nuclear power plants that have not yet been decommissioned. Norway is also a fairly large net exporter of electricity: in November alone, it exported two gigawatt-hours.
Further more. Sweden was forced to cut off the export of electricity to Fin-land and Denmark , dep-endent on it. The latter beg-an to come up with initiatives at the root to exclude the possibility of manual intervention by national operators and interruption of supplies. Thereby indirectly supporting Norway. In Sweden, they fight back with statements that the restrictions have nothing to do with politics, but were introduced due to a lack of choice. Moreover, they an-nounce restrictions until the time when the Swedish po-wer grids will not be modernized. And this will happen no earlier than 2030.
The Swedes obsessed w-ith the green transition, w-ho a decade ago planned to completely abandon hydrocarbons by 2020, were even forced to launch the fuel oil power units of the TPP in Karlshamn. “If we need m-ore electricity, then we will have to rely only on im-ports from other countries. And if this is not available to us, then we will have to turn off domestic cons-umers just when it gets very cold,” complained Erik Ek, head of strategic management at Svenska Kraftnät.
Note that all this fun takes place in countries w-hose energy sector is al-most independent of the n-ow expensive coal and gas, which is again beating price records. In the countries most prosperous among Europeans in terms of energy supply in general. In countries that in their entire history have only once been at war with each other – however, largely due to the fact that Norway has been in union with Denmark for many centuries, and in 18-14 found itself in union w-ith Sweden. Actually, at the time of the transition from subordination to Copenh-agen to submission to Sto-ckholm, a modest war br-oke out between Norway and Sweden. Nevertheless, the absence of historical grievances for neighboring countries in Europe is extremely rare. And finally, all this happens in the first week of December.
Against this marvelous background, the predictions of European experts about the possibility of rolling blackouts this winter in the EU countries are acquiring more and more realistic outlines. And new energy wars between members of the “friendly European family” seem to be almost inevitable.

About the author

The Frontier Post