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Cameron backs European supergrid to kick start expansion

Plans to link-up green energy projects in the Irish, North and Baltic Seas were backed by prime minster David Cameron this week.

Cameron told a UK-BalticNordic summit that energy ministers will carefully work through the North Seas Offshore Grid Initiative to overcome planning, market, regulatory and technical challenges to enable future grid construction.

An electricity supergrid could move green electricity produced in one country to another via thousands of kilometres of sub-sea cables.

Offshore wind farms could also be connected to a number of countries

The proposal aims to overcome pitfalls of using renewable energy sources such as their intermittency and inability to store electricity by balancing out demand.

For example, surplus wind energy produced in Britain could be exported to Norway and used to pump water in its hydro-electric power stations.

The plans were welcomed by the renewable energy industry.

“We’re delighted with the prime minister’s backing,” said developer Mainstream Renewable Power global head of corporate affairs Adam Bruce.

He said a focus on the grid makes sense because the cost of building it is marginal against the cost of construction of wind farms.

However, plans for construction are still some way off.

The UK is working with nine other European countries – Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Norway and Belgium. Progress reports will be presented to ministers from the nine countries in June and December.

The first parts of the Supergrid are not expected to come online until at least 2020.

The news follows the European Wind Energy Association’s decision to make the UK the world leader in offshore power.

Its latest figures put the UK’s installed capacity at 1.34GW, followed by Denmark with 0.85GW and the Netherland with 0.25GW.

Meanwhile manufacturing giant Siemens and Associated British Ports have teamed up to build a major wind turbine manufacturing facility in at Alexandra Dock, Port of Hull.

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