A Norwegian fjord North Sea Link
As the world's longest subsea cable was turned on, Norwegian reservoirs will be powering homes in Great Britain. This is a boost for renewable energy and tighter supplies.
North Sea Link, spanning 724 kilometres, is sixth in a growing network if electricity interconnectors linking Great Britain and its European neighbors. It allows for energy trade and adaptation to grids that are increasingly dependent on variable outputs of solar, wind, and hydro.
The copper cable running along the North Sea's seabed will be tested for the first time in June. It will operate at half of its potential for three more months, before reaching its 1400 megawatt power, sufficient to power over 1.4 million homes.
The power will initially flow mostly from Norway, which gets almost all of its electricity from hydro. It will eventually move to Great Britain, where electricity costs are higher. This link could eventually be used for exporting electricity from offshore wind farm to storage at pumped hydro facilities located in Norway. Pumped water is pumped uphill, and then released to produce electricity.
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Commercial operations will improve Great Britain's electricity supply margins this winter. They are already squeezed by the loss of half of the capacity of an additional link to France. According to Tom Edwards, energy analysts at Cornwall Insight, it couldn't have happened at a better moment.
He says that the new link won't significantly change the situation regarding the high wholesale electricity prices Great Britain is currently experiencing because of high gas prices.
The interconnector is a joint venture between the UKs National Grid (UK) and Norway's Statnett. It was made possible by a tunnel that runs through a mountain for 2.3 km. It is not the only one. It is not the only one. A new one via the Channel Tunnel will switch on in 2022. Then, one to Denmark in 2023, and one to Germany 2024 will follow.
Great Britain is currently a net importer of electricity cables, receiving almost a tenth from them. Edwards believes that the country will become a net exporter in 2025 due to rapid growth of offshore wind farms, and the narrowing gap between electricity prices and those of its neighbors.
According to Edwards, we have the best wind resource and southern Europe has the highest solar resource. Norway is also a great place to grow hydro. The more we are connected, the more we can share these resources and the greener we all can be. If we plan well, it should be a win-win situation.