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Norway–UK electricity interconnector: cheap business energy?


The construction of world’s biggest electricity link between UK and Norway has been agreed. What will be the impact for UK small to medium sized businesses?

Contracts totalling €1.5 billion (around £1.05 billion) have been awarded to build the NSN link, a 740 km undersea cable that will allow power to be shared between Norway and the UK, the UK National Grid reported. The link, which will be the world’s largest, is expected to be in operation by 2021 and will run from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal in Rogaland in Norway.

The NSN Link should contribute to increased production and use of renewable energy on both sides. One of the major challenges with renewable energy is the mismatch between production and demand.

While storage is possible – such as through pumped hydropower – the expense involved means that this type of infrastructure is still lacking. Better connectivity between Europe is hoped to allow excess power to be passed to markets with current demand, reducing the need for costly storage. The capacity of the NSN Link is significant at 1,400MW so will be an important step towards a more integrated European power market.

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The project, which will establish a first direct connection between the two countries’ energy systems, is a joint venture between National Grid and Statnett SF, the Norwegian transmission system operator.

Alan Foster, National Grid’s director of European Business Development, called the link “a huge programme of work”.

“[T]he benefits to both UK and Norway are also huge and when completed the link will deliver low carbon electricity for the UK and also add to security of supply for Norwegian consumers,” he added.

Håkon Borgen, Executive Vice President of Statnett said the link “is an important part of Europe’s future electricity system”.

Cheap business electricity

For the UK’s business energy users, the development can only help companies cut electricity bills in the medium to long term. Indeed, longer term plans include using volcanic energy from Iceland to supply the UK market. But improvements from these projects could take a decade or more to be felt.

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