OFGEM have granted a licence to build a 354-mile power cable that would bring renewable hydropower into Britain. The licence for the NorthConnect project has been granted to a Norwegian consortium.
The developers have been granted an electricity interconnector licence. The next steps would be to work through the regulatory rules that govern electricity transmission in Europe, and these rules are seen to be quite complex.
Norway has an abundance of hydropower reserves in its south west area, and NorthConnect plan to transport those reserves into Britain along a subsea cable that would arrive at a substation at Peterhead, which is in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Power provided by the project could be provided to homes in Britain by 2022.
NorthConnect have said that the extra capacity that the power link would provide will help to tackle issues that arise when more localised sources are pushed to their limits, being affected by weather conditions or unexpected downtime at power plants in the UK. There’s also the impact that increased use of hydro-power would have on the UK meeting targets relating to renewable energy, so the project carries green credentials.
In the case of a surplus of power in the UK the cable would allow power to be exported to Norway for use in the ‘green battery’ – the name given top Norway’s hydropower reservoirs. When power is running at a low price, water is pumped up into the dam at the reservoir and that could be done by the electricity that results from the exported power. The water is then run from the back of the dam across a power generation turbine, and energy that is generated is subsequently released back into the grid when it is required.