Oslo government waits for evidence of benefits before approving NorthConnect project backed by Scottish Government
Insider.co.uk article by Hamish Burns 13:35, 30 MAR 2020
Plans for a subsea renewable energy transmission cable between Scotland and Norway have been put on hold by the government in Oslo.
The Scottish Government had granted marine licences for NorthConnect to lay a 400-mile, two-way interconnector between Boddum, near Peterhead, and Hardangerfjord. The cables would transmit renewable electricity either way depending on demand and supply levels at each end.
But Norway's minister of petroleum and energy Tina Bru has now said her government would wait to find out how similar projects linking to the north-east of England and Germany worked out before giving the Scottish project approval.
North Link, a two way connector between Blyth in Northumberland and Kvilldall, is under construction and due to be completed in 2021. It is a hint project between National Grid PLC and Norwegian energy firm Statnett. Nordlink is being built by Dutch firm Tennet between Germany and Norway.
Bru said: “The Norwegian and Nordic power system is going through significant changes, at a rapid pace. Two new interconnectors, to the UK and Germany respectively, will be commissioned in the near future.
“At this point in time, we do not have sufficient information to reach a decision regarding NorthConnect in accordance with the stipulations of the Energy Act. First we need to get a better understanding of the effects of the operation of the two interconnectors currently under construction.”
NorthConnect is co-owned by energy firms Lyse, Hafslund E-Co, Agder Energi and Swedish Vattenfall. Most of Norway's renewable electricity comes from hydro-electric dams, while Scotland's is generated largely from wind. The plan is to ensure a regular supply of power on both sides of the North Sea that is less dependent on local weather.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described her government as a "strong supporter" of the project, saying in January: "NorthConnect would enable surplus electricity from Scottish wind farms to be transferred to Norway and Scandinavia, if necessary. And on days where the wind doesn’t blow, it would enable electricity from Norway’s hydro-electric schemes to meet some of Scotland’s electricity needs."
NorthConnect said: "NorthConnect has received a letter from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Norway. In the letter, the Ministry informs the project that they do not have sufficient grounds to process NorthConnect's license applications at this point in time. NorthConnect takes note of the decision."
The firm added: "There is widespread agreement among climate scientists that power exchange between countries is crucial for the world to make the transition from a fossil to a renewable energy market. NorthConnect has a large positive climate effect, and will contribute to reducing at least two million tonnes of CO2 annually. This corresponds to as much greenhouse gas emissions as one million passenger cars emit every single year."
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National Grid ESO (NG ESO) has issued its final Phase 1 report, which assesses the most beneficial approaches to offshore grid networks in order to deliver better outcomes for consumers and coastal communities.
Executives from National Grid Plc meet government officials on Thursday to discuss how a growing tangle of projects offshore can be best connected to the network on land. At the moment, wind farms at sea are each linked individually with separate cables. Combining some of those links could cut the amount of new infrastructure needed in half.