With a dominant hydro power system, district heating has a minor role in Norwegian energy supply, but it is considered as an important backup for the power system in larger cities. In 2015, the national heat market was estimated at 46 TWh; the district heating and cooling market accounted for approximately 12%, equivalent to 5.5 TWh. There has been a slower growth of DHC, due to warm winters and more surplus electricity from hydro power (renewable), giving low electricity prices. Renewable electricity represents about 60% of the heat market.
As seen in the graph below, only around 3% of the residential heat demand was covered by district heating in 2015. Direct electric heating will always be dominant for space heating and hot water heating in the residential sector, estimated at about 60%. The rate of new and refurbished buildings with waterborne systems is low. There is strong competition between heat pumps and electrical heating in the market for individual houses.
In total, over 90% of district heat came from direct renewable sources and recycled heat. There are several requirements for using renewable and CO2 neutral resources in the district heating system in Norway. Fossil fuel is used only for the peak load, and has decreased every year.
District cooling is expanding rapidly, by 17% from 2012 to 2013, and by 8% from 2013 to 2015 (169 TWh). The main driving force behind this expansion is the population growth and urbanisation, and there is no regulation leading to higher prices than for district heating and better profitability.