North Sea Link starts operations

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 01/10/2021 National Grid
The €1.6 billion North Sea Link (NSL) inteconnector will start commercial operations today (1 October 2021). The joint venture project between National Grid and Statnett connects the grids of Norway and the UK.

The 720km cable, which connects Blyth in Northumberland with the Norwegian village of Kvilldal, near Stavanger, will start with a maximum capacity of 700 MW and increase to the link’s full capacity of 1400MW over a three-month trial period. The gradual increase in capacity follows the Norwegian system operator’s standard approach for integrating new interconnectors.

Operation of NSL follows six years of development. Laying of the undersea cables began in 2018 and more than four million working hours have been spent on the project, including 5,880 working days at sea.

The project will allow the UK to import enough Norwegian hydro energy to power up to 1.4 million homes. Vice versa when wind generation is high and electricity demand low in Britain, NSL will enable renewable power to be exported from the UK, conserving water in Norway’s reservoirs. 

Cordi O’Hara, President of National Grid Ventures, said: “This is an exciting day for National Grid and an important step as we look to diversify and decarbonise the UK’s electricity supply. North Sea Link is a truly remarkable feat of engineering. We had to go through mountains, fjords and across the North Sea to make this happen. But as we look forward to COP26, North Sea Link is also a great example of two countries working together to maximise their renewable energy resources for mutual benefit. We are delighted to have been able to work together with our Norwegian partners Statnett to deliver a world record asset that will make a positive impact on the lives of citizens on both sides of the North Sea.”

Hilde Tonne, CEO of Statnett, said: “The sharing of renewable energy between countries and regions is a prerequisite for delivering a net zero future for everyone. As North Sea Link goes into trial operations, I am proud of the engineering feat produced by our joint team. North Sea Link brings the power systems on both sides of the North Sea closer to the future."

North Sea Link is the fifth interconnector for National Grid, which also operates links to Belgium, France and the Netherlands. National Grid claims that by 2030, 90% of electricity imported via National Grid’s interconnectors will be from zero carbon sources saving 100 million tonnes of carbon – equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.

This interconnector is the second subsea interconnector Statnett will start with transmission of power in less than a year. It follows the 1400 MW
NordLink project which is 623 km long and runs between Agder in Norway and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. NordLink's project partners, TSO Statnett and DC Nordseekabel, took over operations of the project in April this year.

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