July 25, 2018 / 3:45 PM / 3 months ago

Norway's mid-July power prices hit record high due to dry weather

OSLO (Reuters) - Electricity prices in hydropower-dependent Norway hit a record high for this time of year last week due to lack of rainfall and the unusual warm weather the country has been experiencing since May, the power system’s regulator said on Wednesday.

Between July 16 and July 23, power prices for the first time climbed above 0.50 Norwegian crowns ($0.0613) per kilowatt-hour, compared with the previous record 0.44 crowns hit in 2008.

“The price increase is linked to a reduced hydrological balance due to dry and warm weather...,” the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) said.

Unusually warm and dry weather has led to power costs in Norway almost doubling from 2017, NVE has said.

Net rainfall for the week was estimated to total 0.2 terawatt-hour (TWh) of energy or 15 percent of the normal, the regulator added.

So far this year Norway has received 45 percent less rain than it usually gets between January and July.

Levels in Norwegian hydropower plant reservoirs have been decreasing since reaching 61.7 percent of full capacity at end-June, and were down to 60.4 percent last week.

The reservoirs are fed by rainfall and snow melt in the mountains.

NVE said only the return of rains would help fill the reservoirs since there was much less snow left to melt compared with the previous year.

Last year Norway’s reservoir levels peaked at 86.6 percent in late October.

Temperatures in the Nordic country hit a new record of 35.5 degrees Celsius on July 17.

“What we’re seeing in northern Europe is unusual to say the least. Temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius in the Arctic circle last week, this is more a typical July temperature for southern Europe, for Madrid,” a spokeswoman for the U.N. World Meteorological Organisation said on Tuesday.

Norwegian authorities have banned outdoor barbecues, popular among Norwegians, to reduce risk of wildfires.

Editing by Nerijus Adomaitis and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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