Publisert 13.09.2022 , sist oppdatert 22.03.2024

The World's Largest Machine

On this site, you get more information about the power system in Norway - and how it's connected to the Nordic region and Europe.

How the Machine Works

Did you know that electricity is a perishable good? Electricity must be produced at the same time as it is used. It needs to be constantly generated at the exact rate in which it is used.

For this to function, production and consumption must be in perfect balance. Nowadays, we take it for granted that the power we need will be there at the flick of a switch. And that’s how it should be. But when everyone wakes up at the same time and gets ready for a new day, that affects the power-grid balance. We should also bear in mind that the really big consumers of power, like the industrial and transport sectors, use as much electricity as large cities do. This creates a complex system.

If we are all to have power when we need it, a common set of rules and regulations and extensive cooperation is required. The power balance is controlled continuously, and electricity producers adapt production to meet consumption, every single second – all the year round.

From first local, isolated power grids established in the 19th century, to today’s reality, with the entire country connected in one grid, the Norwegian power system has been expanded and made increasingly robust. This arrangement has provided us all with a more stable power supply, as well as utilizing our resources better.

For the same reason, Norway is now connected with Sweden, Finland and Denmark in a shared power grid. This also means that production and consumption must be balanced at all times, throughout the entire area. In turn, the Nordic grid is connected to the rest of Europe. We are all dependent on each other – and we call this huge network The World's Largest Machine.

Norway usually has a power surplus, but in some periods there is a shortage of electricity, and we need to import from our neighbours. Co-ordination and common ground rules are required for the whole of Europe, rules based largely on the Norwegian/ Nordic power system. It is through this common power market that we can ensure that security of supply is maintained, that electricity is produced when it is needed, and that valuable resources are utilized in the best way.

Norway is moving towards a renewable future. In a restructured society, the need for electricity will increase. We will have to streamline its use while simultaneously ensuring more power production. Increased demand and production will present new challenges, making it more demanding to balance the power system. Other European countries will also undergo this transition. In order to achieve the goal of an emissions-free society, working together with the world's largest machine will be more and more important.