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A ‘supergrid’ that includes links across the North Sea looks a step closer with a proposed Scotland to Scandinavia link set to receive European funds.
The link is a “top priority” for the European Commission, the Herald reported, quoting Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete’s remarks to Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan. Funding will apparently be drawn from a recently established €315 billion (£220 billion) Investment Plan for Europe (to which the UK has pledged £6 billion). Nevertheless, that leaves the majority of the estimated €330 billion cost of the North Sea Offshore Grid (officially the North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative or NSCOGI) to come from the private sector.
The NSCOGI has been at the planning stage since 2009, when nine countries bordering the North Sea agreed to build the grid. The project was left stalled in the starting grid while EU states negotiated on new 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets.
The 40% GHG cut agreed in October 2014 saw the NSCOGI kick-started, with a consultation on plans for a consultation on an EU-wide energy union recently announced. This eventual aim of a single European market for energy supplies, purchases and consumption should make for a more secure, more efficient electricity supply network. Construction work on parts of the NSCOGI could begin within 18 months.
When finished, green energy produced in Scotland could be stored in Scandinavian pumped hydro storage schemes until demand peaked elsewhere in Europe. The NSCOGI could, thus, incentivise investment in renewable projects.
There are already signs of investor appetite for bilateral cable projects. The National Grid and Norway’s state grid company Statnett recently awarded £1.5 billion in contracts to build the first electricity link between the UK and Norway.
One of the primary benefits of the link for the UK would be thousands of jobs. Arguably more important in the longer term, the NSCOGI should also make for cheaper business energy bills.
The UK currently has the most expensive wholesale electricity prices in Europe. Norway – where renewable-generated electricity dominates – has the lowest wholesale prices (around a fifth of the UK, according to the Herald).
While an 80% cut for UK businesses is clearly not on the cards, a significant reduction (likely a single-digit percentage) can be expected.
Yet these price cuts may take more than a decade. For an immediate solution, SwitchMyBuiness.com can offer a comprehensive comparison of business electricity deals and switch supplier in just 20 minutes. Just complete the form at the top right of this page or calling 0330 010 0251.
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