Smart Grid developments in Norway

As in many other countries, energy system sustainability, security, and reliability is also on the Norwegian power system agenda, but the Norwegian strategy needs to follow a path defined by the specific characteristics of the Norwegian power system and electricity use. Approx. 98-99% of the electric power generation in Norway is already based on renewables (hydro power) and the electricity use in households is dominated by space and water heating.  As Norway is committed to follow the EU Renewables Directive (DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC), 67,5% of the total energy use in Norway (including transport) should come from renewables by 2020– an increase from 64,9% in 2009. Thus, also new power generation is needed which will partly be covered by intermittent distributed generation. Together with the regulator’s requirement that the DSOs shall install smart meters by 2019-01-01 and a large influx of EVs, most main drivers for Smart Grids are the same for Norway as for many other industrialized countries, but the solutions might be somewhat different due to the country specific conditions.

The Norwegian Power System and Electricity Use

The Norwegian power system and electricity use has several characteristics different from most countries giving specific challenges and opportunities within the Smart Grid context:

  • Large part of electricity in the domestic sector used for space and water heating which offers much flexibility for demand response and demand side management schemes.
  • Large availability of hydropower plants with reservoirs which are fast and easy to control offering low-cost balancing services. (Most new production is small scale distributed generation without storage.)
  • Quickly growing use of purely battery based electric vehicles due to very good incentives (tax exempt, free parking, free use of toll roads and bus lanes etc.) – approx. 20. 000 EVs today.
  • Significant part of the LV distribution system is of the type 230 Volt IT system (230 V line voltage) different from the 400 Volt line voltage systems in most of Europe.
  • Weak grids with approx. 40% of the supply terminals weaker than the standardized EMC reference impedance giving larger voltage quality challenges when connecting EVs, PVs etc. than many other countries.
  • Well-developed broadband communication to homes and increased use of fibre-to-home communication provided by power utilities.
  • Well-developed electricity markets. There are multi-national  (Nordic) markets with significant volumes for day-ahead, intra-day and balancing with participation of producers and consumers.

In Norway, the Smart grid priorities are partly driven by the regulator (e.g. the requirement in Norway to implement smart meters by 2019-01-01 and partly by new technologies and challenges such as distributed generation (e.g. small hydro, PV), adoption of electrical vehicles, new challenging electric devices such as induction stoves, fibre-to-home communication, smart phones etc. In total, Norway’s power system and markets are well positioned for a future smarter and more renewable power and energy system, but some barriers such as weak grids in parts of the LV system needs to find their cost efficient and smart solutions.

The Norwegian Smart Grid Center

The Norwegian Smartgrid Centre (NSGC) was established in 2010 on the basis of a recommendation of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in its national strategy process for defining future Energy R&D. NSGC is coordinating national research, demonstration, laboratory, education, standardisation and information activities to optimise the use of resources and avoid uncoordinated parallel activities. NSGC has currently 52 members, where six are from universities and research bodies, and the rest is from supply industry, transmission and distribution companies as well as infra-structure providers within telecommunication.

Some of these members are large companies operating worldwide while others are smaller niche companies dealing with more specialized issues. As ICT security, reliability and privacy of data are essential also service providers within these disciplines are well represented. NSGC is a strategic partnership, organized as a membership organization, where the purpose is to coordinate initiatives, exchange information and be a promoter of initiatives of national interests in the field on Smart Grid.  NSGC joined GSGF in 2012.

Demo Norway

1 demo norway pilot and laboratory sites

One of the main achievements of the NSGC so far is the establishment of Demo Norway, a national Smart Grid demonstration and laboratory platform.  The main purpose of Demo Norway is to support development, testing and verification Smart Grid technologies, services and use cases both in real life and laboratory environment. Demo Norway comprises presently six real power system demo sites with more than 10.000 network customers connected as well as the National Smart Grid Laboratory. Immature and high-risk use cases and technologies are best first studied and tested in laboratories while the more mature use cases and use cases which include the behaviour or human response of customers need to be tested in real power systems with real customers.

Demo Norway pilot and laboratory sites >


A brief description of the focused areas of each of these Demos

  • In Demo Steinkjer energy companies, vendors, researchers, customers and governmental bodies can test smart meters, system services and other products in a MV/LV distribution system with 800 network customers (households, commerce, industry and a small hydro power station). The main focus of the demo is to develop commercial products and services for the next generation of smart distribution grids as well as to prepare for the smart meter roll-out required by the regulator. Flexibility of end users and value added services for the DSOs are developed and tested in this project. A dynamic tariff is one of the incentive schemes being tested. Both the technologies involved and the customer response are addressed. A high-level identification of information security threats of the AMI pilot in Demo Steinkjer have been investigated primarily concerning the smart meter and its communication with the main system of the Distribution System Operator (DSO). The possible roles and contributions of Distribution Management Systems for smart distribution system operation are addressed and the demo also contains some smart distribution substations. Data from smart meters and grid sensors are collected and stored in a service-oriented time series database and made available to others via a cloud solution. ICT infrastructures, interoperability and standardisation have also been focus areas in the demo.
  • In Smart Energy Hvaler the living lab consists of all the 6800 customers in an island community fed from the main land by a single 47 kV overhead line.  With the implemented infrastructure, the demo focus on development and testing of enhanced network utilization, reliability and end user flexibility. Both Steinkjer and Hvaler are currently the common platform for testing in the Industry driven project called DeVid supported by the Research Council of Norway. This project is considered to be the power companies’ main research project within Smartgrid. The main element in DeVID project is testing and verification of Smart grid use cases for smarter operation and planning of the distribution system. The availability of new smart meter data has already given improved information on end user load profiles and thus changed the decision base for network planning. The old load profiles have often given a conservative peak load estimate. Bringing the new data into the planning process have thus reduced the needs for grid reinforcements and saved money.
  • In Demo Lyse the aim is to demonstrate ICT-infra structures and architectures focusing on utilising high speed fibre-to-home communication. The energy company Lyse will install AMS-meters to all their end users together with a smart generic gateway facilitating additional services. In Demo Lyse one of the subprograms is called “Smart energy” where 40 network customers have been recruited to test solutions for energy efficiency and energy control utilizing a smart house control concept. In this concept a fibre communication based AMI infrastructure is used for controllable household devices interaction. Lyse is have also a large interest in utilising its communication infrastructure and gateway also to provide welfare services to elderly people supporting them both with energy, security and other welfare services reducing the capacity needs for retirement homes.
  • Demo Dyrøy is a small micro grid test bed which will be a laboratory for system operators. The micro grid of this Demo will supply a remote district heating system and the demo will be a laboratory for testing technical aspects and solutions for future private and public customers. The energy sources to be used for distributed generation in the micro grid are: Wind, solar and bio fuels (combined heat and power – CHP solution).
  • Statnett Pilot North Norway will address development and testing of principles and procedures which contribute to the planning and operation of the power system from a system operator’s (TSO) point of view. Statnett is the Norwegian Transmission System Operator (TSO). In this demo close to real time reliability and risk assessment solutions are tested and verified. Wide area monitoring systems including phasor measurement units (PMUs) both for monitoring and power system oscillation damping control are important elements in the demo. The demo also addresses TSO load management for system balancing purposes by playing on the DSO loads in the northern region of the Norwegian power system.
  • 2 - Skarpnes zero-emission buildingIn Demo Skarpnes 40 houses with so-called passive or zero-emission building standard of which 37 will produce electricity with solar cells forms the demo site. Norwegian authorities plan to introduce the passive house standard as a requirement for new buildings from 2015. To be able to dimension the electricity grid in areas dominated by passive houses it is necessary to learn how load and generation profiles in passive houses differ from those of traditional houses. In 2020 the building regulations might be even stricter, as there are plans to introduce zero energy buildings as a requirement for new residential buildings from this year. This will enhance the need for new modelling tools for grid planning, tools that must take into account the electricity production from distributed electricity generation as well as new load profiles. In the research project “Electricity usage in Smart Village Skarpnes” data from smart electricity meters will be used to monitor load profiles and electricity production in the new passive and zero energy houses at Skarpnes as well as the production from the PV-systems.

An artist’s vision of a passive house under development in Demo Skarpnes |

The site offers a unique opportunity to study a larger number of buildings to prepare for the future, and the project aims to harvest experience and data that can be used to plan the future electricity grid. Expansions and up-grades of the electricity grid are expensive and careful and accurate planning will be of great value for the grid operators.

National Smart Grid Laboratory

In the area of Smart Grids, several research laboratories have been operating in Norway in a rather uncoordinated manner for several years. Each of them could offer a limited range of services and testing capabilities with limited access. The concept of a National Smart Grid Laboratory did not exist until the Norwegian Research Council decided to open a dedicated call for applying for funding to build National Infrastructures in the year 2012.3 distributed generation emulation set

As a result of that, a brand new Smart Grid National Laboratory was granted by the Norwegian Research Council. The lab offers realistic physical model grids (transmission grid with/without HVDC links, distribution grids) as well as interfaces with generation and loads  (smart homes, energy storage, EV charging). One of the main objectives of this laboratory is the testing of new equipment, functions and control strategies to gain insight on their operation before they are implemented in a real application. Although the central laboratory facility will be located in Trondheim, there exist several other connected facilities and demonstration sites that will be linked to the central laboratory by a high speed communication system by which remote access to the facilities and databases will be given.

An example of a distributed generation system emulator set with controllers from the laboratory |

4 smart grid laboratory and demonstration platform



A schematic lay-out of the smart grid laboratory facility with planned extension and upgrade



Moving towards the Smart Grid: The Norwegian CaseOlav B. Fosso, Marta Molinas, Kjell Sand, Grete H. Coldevin
2014 International Power Electronics Conference, IPEC-Hiroshima 2014