Water flowing from mountains to fjords and harnessed by hydropower plants in Norway will power UK homes, as the world’s longest ‘interconnection’ connects the networks of the two countries.
The cable will also allow excess wind power from Britain, when turbines produce high levels of electricity in windy conditions but demand is low, to be exported to Norway to power homes there.
This will allow the Norwegian grid to store energy efficiently, by conserving water in the Scandinavian country’s vast Blasjo reservoir that is used to power hydroelectric plants, for use at another time.
The £ 1.4 billion North Sea Link, a joint venture between National Grid and Norwegian grid operator Statnett, will help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels for electricity in the UK.
National Grid said it would help avoid 23 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030.
The 6-inch (15 cm) wide cables that connect Blyth in Northumberland to the Norwegian village of Kvilldal in western Norway will start operating with a maximum capacity of 700 megawatts (MW) and gradually increase to the full capacity of the 1,400 MW link over a three month period.
When at full capacity, it will provide enough clean electricity to power 1.4 million homes, National Grid said.
UK Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Greg Hands said: “As we prepare to host the UN Cop26 summit, this pioneering partnership shows first-hand how international cooperation will be crucial in helping us achieve our net zero ambitions and deliver renewable energy to millions of UK homes.
Cordi O’Hara, president of National Grid Ventures, said the North Sea Link was “a truly remarkable feat of engineering”.
We had to cross mountains, fjords and cross the North Sea to get there.
“But as we look forward to Cop26, North Sea Link is also a prime example of two countries working together to maximize their renewable energy resources for mutual benefit. “
In Kvilldal, on the edge of a peaceful lake, a converter station was built to allow cheap electricity produced by a hydroelectric power station located in the heart of the Norwegian hill to be transmitted to the UK.
Cables from the converter station, which is connected to the Norwegian grid next to the hydropower plant, were laid through the lake and a tunnel to cross the hill to the nearby fjord and then to the North Sea.
Submarine cables carry the renewable energy to another converter station in Blyth where it enters the UK grid.
The scheme, which spanned six years, is National Grid’s fifth interconnection, which also operates links to Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
The company says that, by 2030, 90% of the electricity imported through interconnections will come from zero carbon sources.
By city AM
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