Scheduled to start operating in 2022, the North Connect project will link the UK to Norway’s south-west region, which contains 90 per cent of the country’s hydropower plants and is known as the “green battery”.
The 345-mile subsea cable will allow excess wind power from the UK to be exported to Norway to refill pumped hydropower storage reservoirs. The energy can then be stored until it is needed, with power being regenerated and exported back to the UK in periods of low wind.
The project is being developed by three Norwegian companies – Agder Energi, E-CO and Lyse – as well as Swedish company Vattenfall AB.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “If the UK and the rest of Europe are to move to a 100 per cent renewable future then greater use of interconnectors is a sensible way forward.
“Sharing different renewable resources between nations would help drive down climate emissions much faster than relying on domestic action alone. However, it shouldn’t be an excuse for any country to halt the development their own renewable capacity.
“A European-wide ‘supergrid’ would also bring the double benefits of security of supply and a reduced need to build lots of expensive new nuclear or fossil fuel power stations.”
Britain currently has four interconnectors: a 2GW link to France; a 1GW link to the Netherlands; and two 500MW links to Ireland.
Aside from North Connect Ofgem has awarded licenses to a further seven interconnectors which are planned for the UK, with a total capacity of 7.3GW. Among them is the NSN interconnector – another 1.4GW link to Norway being developed by National Grid and Norwegian firm Statnett, which is expected to start operating a year before North Connect, in 2021.
At the beginning of last week developer Aquind announced plans for another 2GW interconnector to France, which is also expected to come online in 2021.
The government said it supports a 9GW increase in the UK’s interconnector capacity, as it published its response in April to the National Infrastructure Commission’s smart power report.