The UK and Norway are to build the world’s longest undersea interconnector – a method of linking up electricity and gas networks – to provide enough low-carbon energy for almost 750,000 British homes.
National Grid and Statnett, the Norwegian transmission system operator, are due to sign the ownership agreement for the 450-mile (730km) interconnector at the British embassy in Oslo, on Thursday.
The two-way 1,400MW electricity cable will run from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal, in Rogaland, on the Norwegian side. It will cost about €2bn (£1.5bn) and completion is planned for 2021.
The agreement with Norway will save UK households up to £3.5bn over 25 years by importing cheaper electricity, according to an estimate by Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem.
Ed Davey, the energy secretary, said the deal would give Britain access to Norwegian green hydropower at the flick of a switch, to replace wind turbines in the UK when the wind was not blowing.
Davey said: “This is a project I have worked on with Statnett and National Grid for two years and I am delighted they’ve now made this massive investment decision.
“It won’t be all one-way traffic. We are in the process of investing heavily in new low-carbon generation. In the future we would expect that there will be times when our generation exceeds our demand and we are able to export clean power to Norway in return.”
There were fears that bad weather at Oslo international airport would prevent the British delegation from flying to the Norwegian capital for the signing, but the event went ahead.
Alan Foster, National Grid’s director of European business development, who signed the agreement, said: “Access to low-carbon energy from Norway hydropower stations will help us meet the challenge of greener, affordable energy.
“It also adds to the diversity of energy sources for the UK and potentially can reduce peak prices with benefits for consumers and businesses.”
The interconnector will be the first electricity link between Britain and Norway but the countries already have connections supplying Norwegian gas and oil to the UK. They include the 725-mile Langeled pipeline, which runs from the Nyhamna terminal in Norway, to Easington in Yorkshire.
Davey said: “Norway is one our most important energy partners and so far, our partnership has revolved mainly around the fossil fuel resources in the North Sea. This project moves us into a new phase in which the sharing of renewable power can also make significant contributions to both countries.”
A group of energy companies announced plans in 2011 to build an electricity interconnector between Norway and Scotland. The proposed 350-mile cable is supposed to be built by 2020 at a cost of £1.75bn. SSE, the British energy supplier, pulled out of the project in 2013.
The UK already has electricity interconnectors with France, Ireland and the Netherlands, and wants to add more to meet expected demand for energy.National Grid’s reassurance in October that there would be no winter blackoutswas borne out but analysts have said the UK is vulnerable to energy shocks unless supplies are increased. – The Guardian