Deep freeze in Arctic Europe sends power prices soaring
By Paul Homewood
It’s so cold, even Norwegians refuse to ski
On the Finnmark plateau, between Kautokeino and Karasjok, temperatures dropped down to -35°C on Sunday. The forecast for the coming week shows a temperature anomaly for the last days of November of 10°C below the reference period 1961-1990, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute informs.
Coldest out is Nikkaluokta near Gällivare in Norrbotten with -36°C.
In times of climate change, the current freeze comes in sharp contrast to last fall, when meteorologists reported about the hottest October and early November ever measured, with an average of 6,7°C above normal across the Arctic.
Cold weather even sweeps the coast of northernmost Norway where the Arctic waters are kept ice-free by the warm Gulf Stream. In Kirkenes, on the border to Russia, the thermometer read -25°C on Saturday outside the Barents Observer’s office.
On the Kola Peninsula, Sunday November 28 came with temperatures from -18°C to -30°C the news online Severpost reported.
Further east in the Russian Arctic, quickly accumulating sea-ice on the Northern Sea Route has created a critical situation as a number of ships have been trapped in thick sea-ice for several weeks.
At the ski resort Ruka near Kuusamo in northern Finland, this weekend’s opening of FIS Cross-Country World Championship is deeply troubled by the frost. With temperatures below -20°C, the start of the competitions was in jeopardy. Norway’s team withdraw from the race, arguing it was too cold to ski.
Extreme freeze over northern Scandinavia causes energy prices to soar to a record high. The main reason is high consumption combined with ice formation on rivers with hydropower plants in northern Sweden. The northern regions of Norway and Sweden are closely linked together in the same electricity grid.
Low production in Sweden pushes prices up, also in northernmost Noway. On Sunday, a kWh came with a price-tag of 1,92 kroner/kWh (€0,19/kWh) on the spot market, the highest cost for electricity inside the Arctic Circle since 2010. Current prices are up to 10 times higher compared to the average daily over the three first weeks of November.
And it’s not just the Barents Sea, the situation is now getting critical at the other end of Siberia:
The quickly accumulating sea-ice on the Northern Sea Route is creating a potentially critical situation along Russia’s east Arctic coast. For several weeks, a number of ships have been trapped in thick sea-ice.
Several ships have also been waiting to sail into the area. For many days, the Tiksi, Yamal Ibris, I. Trubin, Polar King and Arshenevsky were located in the Kara Sea awaiting icebreaker assistance to their destinations. On board the ships was thousands of tons of equipment needed by local authorities and companies in the Chukotka region.
However, none of the ships will reach their destinations. In mid-November, they all turned back westwards and are now about to make it to Arkhangelsk where the cargo will be unloaded.
According to regional authorities in Chukotka a replacement will come in early January when nuclear-powered container ship Sevmorput will bring the cargo to destination.