A new subsea electricity interconnector, believed to be the longest of its kind in the world, is now linking the UK and Norway, enabling the countries to share renewable energy for the first time.
The €1.6 billion (£1.4bn) North Sea Link (NSL), a joint venture between the UK’s National Grid and Norwegian system operator Statnett, has been powered up and is starting commercial operations today.
The 450-mile long cable, which connects Blyth in Northumberland with the Norwegian village of Kvilldal, near Stavanger, will help reduce the burning of fossil fuels in the UK and avoid 23 million tonnes of carbon emissions by 2030.
It will start with a maximum electricity capacity of 700MW and gradually increase to the full capacity of 1,400MW over a three-month period, when it will provide enough electricity to power 1.4 million homes.
The cable will enable the UK to source electricity from hydropower plants connected to large reservoirs in Norway, which can respond faster to fluctuations in demand compared to other major generation technologies.
In addition, when wind generation is high and electricity demand is low in the UK, NSL will enable excess wind power to be exported to Norway.
Greg Hands, UK Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change Minister said: “The UK has a strong energy bond with Norway that goes back decades. North Sea Link is strengthening that bond and enabling both nations to benefit from the flexibility and energy security that interconnectors provide.
“As we prepare to host the UN COP26 summit, this pioneering partnership shows first-hand how crucial international cooperation will be in helping us to deliver on our net zero ambitions and provide clean renewable energy to millions of UK homes.”
NSL is National Grid’s fifth interconnector, with the others linking the UK with Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
By 2030, 90% of electricity imported via its interconnectors will be from zero carbon sources, helping save 100 million tonnes of carbon, which is equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.
Cordi O’Hara, President of National Grid Ventures added: “This is an exciting day for National Grid and an important step as we look to diversify and decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply. North Sea Link is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. We had to go through mountains, fjords and across the North Sea to make this happen. But as we look forward to COP26, North Sea Link is also a great example of two countries working together to maximise their renewable energy resources for mutual benefit.
“We are delighted to have been able to work together with our Norwegian partners Statnett to deliver a world record asset that will make a positive impact on the lives of citizens on both sides of the North Sea.”