Approaching a new record
The plan to connect the Norwegian and UK power markets could mean yet another world record for Statnett.
It is not the first time Statnett sets a new record. When the NorNed interconnector between Norway and the Netherlands entered into operation it was the longest subsea cable in the world. The 580 kilometre-long cable runs from Kvinesdal in Vest-Agder County to Eemshaven in the Netherlands, and was put into operation in 2008.
Now Statnett and the British grid operator National Grid go one step further as they are planning to install a cable from Kvilldal in Rogaland County to Blythe near Newcastle. The 1400 MW cable, which is more than 700 kilometres long, will supply Britain with power on calm days. Norway will, in turn, have a more reliable power supply in cold and dry years, and benefit from more stable electricity prices.
"The cable will ensure that we don’t get any shockingly high electricity bills, as we’ve seen some winters. It will curb prices in periods with high pressure in the system," says Project Director Thor Anders Nummedal of Statnett. Furthermore, the cable will ensure that Statnett is at the forefront of steering the Norwegian power system in a direction that will provide great flexibility in an uncertain future.
The British have ambitious goals of developing large amounts of renewable energy in the years ahead. That is good news for our climate, but will also result in greater variations in the production pattern than is the case with the current gas and coal-fired power stations and nuclear plants.
"With its hydropower reservoirs Norway can supply hydropower to Britain as and when required. At the same time, we can purchase power from Britain when the weather is cold and dry in Norway. This will result in more efficient use of the energy sources on both ends of the cable, and will provide climate and socio-economic benefits," says Nummedal.
Consequently, it is not surprising that the cable has been a major discussion point between the two countries at the top political level. Nummedal has found that they enjoy strong political support in Norway as well as in the UK, from politicians and environmentalist alike.
"We have received strong support from environmental groups. This project is important to speed up renewable energy initiatives. Their objectives are the same as ours, and they realise that the cables will be important for ensuring a reasonable return on renewables investments,” Nummedal says.
Goal achievement in 2020
In 2012, Statnett and National Grid surveyed the seabed where the cable will be installed. During the first six months of 2013, Statnett will establish a final collaboration between the cable constructors. In addition, licences must be obtained on both sides of the North Sea, and suppliers must be found.
"We are making good progress. However, the licensing process represents a time challenge. By establishing contracts with the British, we ensure that we have common goals and agree on how we should proceed. We are two parties, which means it’s important to find solutions that benefit both sides," Nummedal says.
If it all goes to plan, Statnett can celebrate breaking its own world record before the end of 2020.