by Trevor Smith
Norway is in the process of finalizing plans to build massive submarine power cables to link its power grid to England’s and Germany’s grids. The move is being praised as a win for clean energy, as the cable will allow for exporting excess hydroelectric energy from Norway to England and Germany. The cable to Germany is set to be completed by 2018, while the cable to England will be finished by 2020 (Reuters 2015).
The nearly four hundred mile cable between Germany and Norway, christened NordLink, will be capable of supplying up to three percent of Germany’s energy. How much energy Germany will actually draw from Norway is dependent on how much energy Germany is producing itself—the cable is designed to account for fluctuations in Germany’s solar and wind power production and draw power from Norway only when necessary (Rueter 2015). The cable can also be used to transfer energy in the opposite direction, sending any excess energy Germany produces to Norway.
This power exchange system has the potential to become even more powerful with the addition of cables connecting other countries with Norway. A 435 mile cable connecting Norway and England is expected to be completed by 2020. The deal is very similar to that between Germany and Norway; England plans to import excess hydropower energy from Norway and to offload their own excess wind and solar energy through the cable as well (Reuters 2015). After the completion of the cable, England will then be connected to Germany in addition to Norway. The end result will be a much more stable renewable energy grid. Because dips or spikes in power production in any of these three countries can be offset by pulling power from any of the others (even if only indirectly through Norway, in the case of England and Germany), produced power can be more consistently and efficiently used. The cables do come at a cost, however: The cable to England will cost 2 billion euros, while the cable to Germany will cost approximately 1.5 billion euros.
Gero Rueter. “Norway to become Germany’s energy reservoir” DW, February 16, 2015. http://www.dw.de/norway-to-become-germanys-energy-reservoir/a-18256802
“Norway’s Statnett sees final decision on 2 bln euro UK cable in Q1” Reuters, Jan 5, 2015. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/01/05/norway-uk-cable-idUKL6N0UK1Y720150105