Statkraft anticipates a renaissance for flexible hydropower

Statkraft, Europe’s biggest producer of renewable energy, today sent a license application for a major modernization of the Folgefonn hydropower scheme in Hardanger, Norway, to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). Electrification and new industry development are expected to increase demand for renewable energy. Higher demand combined with more energy from variable renewable energy sources will increase the need for flexible power production. Hydropower will contribute with both higher capacity and more power production.

This license application requests an increase in installed capacity from 250 MW to 880 MW. The project would provide 70-80 GWh of new clean energy into the power system, which corresponds to the electricity consumption of 5,000 households. It is 40 years since Statkraft last submitted a license application for such a large hydropower project. The modernization will make the Mauranger II power plant Norway’s fifth largest in terms of capacity.

“We expect that in the future, there will be an increased need for more flexibility and capacity. We can contribute to this by upgrading our hydropower plants. The increased need for power and a recently adapted hydropower taxation mean that it is now possible to implement large projects and Statkraft is now submitting a license application for Folgefonn. The need for more flexible power production can lead to a renaissance for existing Norwegian hydropower plants,” says Statkraft’s CEO Christian Rynning-Tønnesen.

Increased capacity for industry

The modernization of the Mauranger power plant would contribute with significantly more capacity into Western Norway’s power system, and together with the development of the grid, it will be part of the solution to this challenge. The project would also support Norway’s offshore wind plans and new industrial development.

The modernization represents a substantial investment into mainland Norway. It will take about 3 years before detailed planning can begin. Construction could start in 2026. The impact on nature associated with the project will be limited. Environmental considerations will be part of the licensing process.

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CEO Christian Rynning-Tønnesen at the existing Mauranger power plant with  Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland, (right) and head of communication for the ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Arvid Samland.

Looking for profitable projects

Statkraft continuously assesses the need for rehabilitation and the possibility of upgrading or expanding and re-designing our hydropower plants and is in the process of reviewing our entire hydropower portfolio to evaluate profitable projects. “We believe that there will be more similar projects in the years ahead,” says Executive Vice President for Production at Statkraft, Hilde Bakken.

Statkraft has invested more than NOK 20 billion in Norwegian hydropower since 2005 and has so far in 2022 opened two hydropower plants, Storlia and Vesle Kjela power plants in Eidfjord municipality and Vinje municipality, respectively. Both Folgefonn, Storlia and Vesle Kjela are profitable projects in existing facilities in already regulated watercourses that will provide new energy with limited impact on nature.