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The Nordics: a utilities utopia?

September 8th, 2014

Imagine a land protected from the global economic crisis where there is a huge surplus of power and energy, creating un-paralleled export opportunities.

A land where millions of euros are pumped in to develop renewable energy sources and smart grid solutions and there is government support for businesses which can bring innovations to the table.

That is the reality unfolding in The Nordics.

Sweden has a target of being independent from fossil fuels by 2030, requiring a total upgrade of its energy infrastructure. It’s also ahead of the game on installing smart meters and smart grid technologies.

Denmark is home to one third of the global wind market and is the world leader in supply chain technologies to the wind industry. It’s also highly innovative in cleantech – particularly creating electricity and fuels with a lower environmental footprint.

And in Norway, around 99 per cent of power generation comes from clean hydro driven installations, with government support for companies driving renewable power

Historically, The Nordics were seen as something of a ‘closed shop’ for businesses outside the region. But with so much work on the table the gates are open to suppliers globally. This is a time of unparalleled opportunities for everyone – from the crews ‘digging holes in the ground,’ to providers of advanced IT solutions to support the        implementation of smart meters and smart grids.

There are four key business opportunities in The Nordics utilities industry:

·         Renewables

The Nordics is in the process of complying with a series of ruling from the European Union, which requires 80 per cent of households to have smart meters installed by 2020.

The EU also requires member countries to cut their carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020; prompting multi-billion euro investments in renewable and clean technologies.

This creates a wealth of opportunities for suppliers in other countries, linked to the production of renewable energy and services.

·         Smart meters and smart grids

The Nordics were relatively quick off the mark in terms of implementing smart technologies.

Sweden, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have already planned or deployed nation-wide smart metering systems.

EON installed around one million smart meters in Swedish homes between 2004 – 2012, which represents about 20 per cent of all the meters in the country. A series of other utilities firms followed suit and now around 99 per cent of homes in Sweden have a smart meter.

Meanwhile, Denmark has the highest investment in the world in smart grids per capita and per national electricity consumption. It also has three times more research and development projects than demo or delivery projects; cementing its reputation as a leader in research and innovation in the field of smart grids.

With a raft of data being collected, there are now a wealth of opportunities for IT professionals – in terms of developing smart solutions to analyse the information, spotting patterns in energy consumption, providing technology to monitor outages and even in making recommendations in terms of changing people’s behaviour. It’s widely recognised that SME suppliers often have the most innovative ideas to bring to the table, offering new products and materials all the time.

·         Exporting energy

Despite being relatively small, Norway and Sweden are among the Top 10 of 216 countries in terms of the amount of electricity they export across the world* . Norway has been able to export large amounts of power because of a huge surplus in energy – nearly all of which is generated via hydroelectric power production.  Denmark comes in 20th, just behind the USA, and Finland is 46th.

This presents a wide range of opportunities linked to transmissions and storage.

·         Development of the main grid - Norway

Norway 's state-owned electricity grid operator Statnett has said that between 50 billion-70 billion Norwegian kroner ($8.7 billion-$12.2 billion) needs to be invested in the main grid over the next decade*.  Otherwise the system would not meet higher electricity production and there would be continued price disparities between regions, with an insecure supply and limited export capacity.

For suppliers, this means opportunities linked to construction and civil engineering.


The Nordics is effectively opening up a global competition to deliver its ambitious projects. Suppliers must therefore look to achieve world-class standards in business critical areas to be considered.

All the major players – including Dong, EON, Vattenfall, Statkraft and Statnett –  will come together at AchillesLive in Oslo on September 16-18.

The event will be hosted by global supplier information firm Achilles, which manages Sellihca – the pre-qualification community for The Nordics utilities industry. Sixty of the region’s major utilities buyers have agreed common, business critical requirements of suppliers and use a standardised form to check providers meet the criteria. The system also helps buyers comply with legislation and proactively identify and mitigate risks within their supply chains.

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