National Grid hypocrisy over subsea HVDC cables for offshore solutions

Apr 30, 2024 | Cumulative Impact, Environment / Net Zero, Media Coverage, National Grid, Network Design, News, Politics, Technology

National Grid are using subsea HVDC cables on multiple projects, making claims this technology is too expensive a nonsense.

National Grid has multiple projects in the pipeline that utilise the long-distance transmission of power using HVDC subsea cables and yet whenever options for solutions involving the same technology are suggested in connection to the transmission network for wind farms off East Anglia we are told it is too expensive.

National Grid are currently inviting communities to view proposals for two HVDC subsea electricity links, both between Scotland and Lincolnshire, EGL3 a distance of 575km and EGL4 525km – READ the 4C Offshore article HERE.

We have consistently argued to DESNZ and National Grid ESO that bringing power onshore on the Suffolk coast and taking power overland through East Anglian countryside makes no sense, when the best and most cost-effective solution is to take power directly from where it is generated using subsea cables to where it is needed nearer London and the South East.

Indeed National Grid give precisely this argument in their 4 July 2023 press release for a previous similar project EGL2 (436km). National Grid’s president of UK Strategic Infrastructure Carl Trowell states: “This new infrastructure will connect more clean, renewable energy from where it’s generated to where it’s needed, helping contribute to lower energy bills over the long-term..”.

In addition, all these projects are between brownfield locations, precisely what we are arguing for, as bringing power onshore at brownfield sites allows economic regeneration to happen, as opposed to economic and environmental destruction in greenfield locations like the Suffolk Coast.

Sealink is a classic case in point of National Grid using this ‘expensive’ technology when it suits them, when greater profits are to be made, and by suggesting an inefficient transmission network design to create extra projects for itself. Excess power is taken into the Suffolk Coast where it isn’t needed only to then be removed to where it will be used, instead of going directly offshore to point of use, creating huge amounts of unnecessary onshore infrastructure in the process. Sealink is redundant if there is no excess energy brought to the Suffolk Coast in the first place. It is a £1.8billion white elephant. SEAS is promoting more strategic offshore planning where wind energy is aggregated at sea and taken to existing brownfield sites such as Grain.

National Grid to date has only proposed onshore to onshore HVDC subsea cables, which suggests a lack of technological capability when it is clearly available in Europe. As an example Dutch organisation TenneT as part of Lionlink at the Dutch end, are using HVDC cables from an offshore platform where wind farm energy is pooled, going subsea to a brownfield onshore connection (see simple diagram HERE), and in the process reducing onshore infrastructure at the Dutch end.

Government must act to stop National Grid continuing to put corporate profit ahead of better solutions for UK consumers, communities and the environment. DESNZ must take back control before the UK’s electricity transmission network infrastructure goes in a similar direction to the water industry, where decisions are being made in favour of shareholders’ profits instead of the best long-term interests of consumers and the environment.

See our recent blog exploding National Grid’s myths HERE

See our previous Newsletter pulling apart National Grid’s disingenuous calculations HERE