Interconnector from Norway to pump hydro power to UK when the wind doesn’t blow

Norway interconnector to UKBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

The British and Norwegian Prime Ministers have ‘warmly welcomed’ the new North Sea Network (NSN) interconnector with the final investment decision announced by the National Grid and their Norwegian counterpart, Statnett.

The  (£1.4bn) project will connect the two countries’ electricity markets directly for the first time by a subsea  730km subsea cable, which has the capacity to transmit 1.4 GW of electricity.

A joint statement issued recently by the British and Norwegian Prime Ministers said: “By connecting our two countries, the decision announced by National Grid and Statnett marks a strengthening of our energy partnership.

“The UK and Norway have worked in partnership for many decades to create a strong North Sea oil and gas sector, which continues to provide many thousands of jobs and shared infrastructure that delivers safe and secure energy supplies.

“By linking our electricity markets, the project is a forward-looking endeavour that will maximise the potential economic benefits of our national energy systems. The North Sea interconnector strengthens mutual security of supply, enhancing energy security in both countries by linking our power markets, and reinforcing capacity in times of system stress.

“Natural gas imports from Norway will continue to be a fundamental part of the UK’s energy mix, and as a reliable supplier, Norway will continue to facilitate exports to maintain supplies to the UK and other European markets.”

The energy is to be used to manage increasing levels of intermittent wind power on the network and – crucially – the UK will be able to call on the power at short notice. The interconnector will also be a two-way link with Norway able to import power from the UK during dry periods when hydroelectric power is less widely available.

The project is planned to be completed by 2021 with the interconnector running from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal in Norway. It is part of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest initiative and is expected to receive €31 million for development and early-stage engineering studies from the EU.

Ofgem is currently examining the need for two further interconnectors to France and one to Denmark. Last month, National Grid signed a joint venture agreement with the Belgian electricity transmission operator, Elia, to develop Nemo, the first electricity interconnector between the two countries.

A poll for Scottish Renewables showing that 79% of people in Scotland want the next Westminster Government to develop policies that support renewable energy has been welcomed today by the SNP.

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