Norway power link for North East

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A PROJECT to build a direct link between the Scottish and European electrical grids has come a step closer to fruition, after an application was submitted by the group behind the plans to connect to the National Grid at Peterhead.

NorthConnect, a Norwegian-registered consortium jointly owned by 5 companies including a subsidiary of Perth-based Scottish and Southern Energy, plans to build the 570 kilometre, 1,400MW cable between Scotland and Norway. The high-voltage DC cable will need a plant in Peterhead to convert incoming electricity into AC power suitable for the National Grid and outgoing electricity into DC power.

There is growing interest in Peterhead as the location for an ‘energy hub’, which could import and export electricity to and from Europe and England. Plans to run a separate cable from Peterhead to the North-East of England, in order to further enhance the ability of Scottish based generators to meet demand south of the border, are also being discussed.

Scotland already has interconnectors which allow the export of electricity to Northern Ireland and to England, while England has interconnectors which allow power to be imported from France and the Netherlands. However, with Norway having its own connectors to the Netherlands, Germany and the rest of Scandanavia, the project opens up the prospect of being able to export more easily an anticipated surplus of renewable energy generated in Scotland from wind, wave and tidal power.

One of the problems highlighted by critics of renewable energy is that it can be hard to tailor output to demand. If the project goes ahead, one of the cable’s main uses will be to allow Scottish renewable producers to export surplus electricity, which can be used to help Norwegian hydro-electric stations to pump water into reservoirs, acting as a store for the energy which can later be released to create power at times of high demand. Project backers believe that it can contribute to enhanced security of energy supply in both the Nordic market area and UK, help deliver to more stable energy prices for consumers and facilitate the development of renewable generation in both regions.

Odd Øygarden, Chairman of the Board of NorthConnect, said the application marked a “further milestone” in the progress of developing the interconnector.

“We are sure that there is a real requirement to more closely link the electricity markets of Scandinavia and Great Britain together as this will bring benefits in terms of security of supply, deployment of additional renewable generation and more efficient generation in both regions”, he said.