Proposals for a subsea electricity cable linking Scotland to Norway will be examined as part of a study into a planned new North Sea interconnector, SNP Leader Alex Salmond has revealed.
SSE Interconnector, a subsidiary of Scottish and Southern Energy, has signed a partnership agreement with three Norwegian utilities, Adger Energi, E-Co Energi and Lyse, and Sweden’s Vattenfall to examine the feasibility of building an interconnector between the UK mainland and Norway.
While a number of options are being explored, there is a technical preference for the shortest route, which would mean a landing point in the North East of Scotland.
The First Minister announced the launch of the jointly-owned interconnector development company, NorthConnect – whose work will be supported with €50,000 from the Scottish European Green Energy Centre – as he addressed the Scottish Renewables-Scottish Enterprise offshore wind conference in Aberdeen.
Mr Salmond highlighted Scotland’s incredible renewable potential and said:
“Scotland is ideally placed to become the green powerhouse of Europe, with a practical offshore renewables resource estimated at 206 GW – just one third of which could generate electricity to meet the needs of more than 36 million households far beyond our shores and help deliver a low carbon economy that both supports sustainable economic growth and responds to the challenge of climate change. The EU North Sea grid co-ordinator has recognised Scotland as a fine example of how a coherent renewables policy can be developed and made clear that connection to an integrated European grid is essential to ensuring our resources fully contribute to Europe’s sustainable energy policy. For that we must achieve a connection across to Scandinavia and mainland Europe, something I pursued with my Norwegian counterparts when I visited them in August.
“So I am delighted to announce the signing today of an agreement between Scottish and Southern Energy and leading Norwegian and Swedish energy companies to work towards the building of an electricity interconnector carrying power to and from Scandinavia, with North East Scotland being well placed to be the obvious choice. Today’s agreement represents a major early step towards the integration of Scotland’s electricity network into a pan-European grid. That is why I am also pleased to confirm the support of the Scottish European Green Energy Centre which will contribute €50,000 to the project’s route survey.”
SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said: “Increasing interconnection between networks is likely to be an important feature of the electricity industry in Europe as the drive to maximise supplies of secure, low carbon sources of energy increases over the next two decades. Scotland and Norway have rich and diverse natural resources from which to produce large amounts of electricity, and an interconnector could allow the potential of those complementary resources to be fulfilled by meeting the needs of customers across north west Europe.”
Chris Bronsdon, CEO of SEGEC, commented: “SEGEC is delighted to be involved as a project partner and in leveraging funding for this study. This type of project is fundamental in realising the European policy agenda on increased interconnection of electricity markets and supports the longer term vision of delivering higher levels of renewables penetration across the EU.”
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, added: “This would be a real boost to Scotland’s energy industry, with access to important new markets meaning greater investment and employment from the generation of renewable electricity. Greater interconnection with mainland Europe will have major benefits, increasing energy security, promoting ever-greater competition, and allowing us to share different countries’ key strengths to balance supply and demand.”