WITH NORWEGIAN HYDRO reservoir levels down by about 20% after the driest autumn in 70 years, officials are worried that there could be serious power shortages as electricity demand peaks during the winter months.

Hydroelectric power stations, provide nearly all of Norway’s electricity supply. Prices on Norway’s wholesale electricity markets have increased sharply in anticipation of lower supplies in the months ahead.

Norwegians, accustomed to plentiful supplies of cheap power, are among the world’s biggest consumers of electricity.

Some analysts believe the problem has been exacerbated by Norway’s failure to build new power stations.

Norway’s competing electricity companies have been reluctant to invest in new generating capacity for fear of oversupplying the market.