The UK electricity regulator OFGEM has granted a licence for a Scandinavian consortium to build an international power connector between Scotland and Norway.
The developers – who comprise Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned utility and three Norwegian hydro power generators – plan to build a £1.3 billion power cable between Boddam in Aberdeenshire and Eidfjord in Norway.
Perth-based Scottish energy giant SSE withdrew from the project in 2013,saying it wanted to focus instead on its markets in Britain and Ireland.
The consortium – called North Connect and which is registered in Norway – aims to link hydro power from Norway with wind energy from Scotland and is scheduled to start operating from 2022.
The project is expected to support around 200 local jobs in construction work in a Grampian economy reeling from 10,000 job losses in the local oil and gas industry and support five local jobs throughout its 60-year operational life.
An OFGEM spokesman said: “A number of interconnector projects are being developed to link UK with neighbouring countries. Increasing interconnection improves Britain’s security of supply as it can import from a wider, deeper and cheaper pool of electricity.
“Now that OFGEM has granted North Connect an interconnector licence, the developers can decide whether to apply for our cap and floor regime (our regulated route for interconnector investment in GB) or for an exemption from certain European rules that apply to interconnectors.
Aberdeenshire Cooncil has already approved the application by North Connect for an electricity converter station and underground cables near Peterhead.
North Connect now plans to connect power networks in the UK and Scandinavia via the 400 mile underwater power cable between Scotland and Norway. The converter station and onshore cables are required to connect the interconnector cable to the UK National Grid.
OFGEM also supports the development of this – and other interconnectors between the UK and Europe – as a means of increasing reliability of UK power supplies and keeping prices down.
A North Connect spokesman added: “We’re obviously happy that Aberdeenshire Council has supported the NorthConnect project.
“This major investment is an opportunity for the north east economy, it will help keep the lights on in Scotland, press down on household electricity bills and allow the green powerhouses of Scotland and Scandinavia to deliver their low carbon potential.”
The cable will have a capacity of 1.4GW – around 25% of Scottish peak demand.
** ‘Cooncil’ is the Scots language word for ‘council’ and is not pejorative: