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Huhne launches new European grid link

Energy secretary Chris Huhne is launching the first new grid connection to Europe for 25 years today, with the pledge that it marks the first step towards a North Sea “supergrid”.

The “Britned” interconnector links the UK with the Netherlands, enabling the flow of 1,000MW of electricity between the two countries, which Huhne said would lead to more competition and lower bills for consumers.

And he said the 260km electricity cable from the Isle of Grain in Kent to Massvlakte near Rotterdam could be the first of many linking European countries.

A new link is already being built to Ireland, and there are plans for undersea cables linking the UK to Norway, Belgium and France.

In the future, Britain could even be connected to Iceland, giving this country access to stable supplies of low-carbon geothermal and hydroelectricity.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change said the interconnector with Norway would allow the UK to import electricity generated by hydropower to help balance our energy system at times when the wind is not blowing.

The connector would also mean we could export excess wind and nuclear electricity to Norway when they need it, because of dry year or overnight to save their water reserves.

Huhne said: “This is the UK’s first interconnector in 25 years. This 260km cable marks the start of a move towards a true European supergrid, where power from our neighbours can flow into our electricity system and we’ll be able to export too.

“More interconnection helps our energy security, helps us better use the increasing power we’ll get from renewables and helps consumers as increased trading can force prices down.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • I take it these supergrid costs are costs over and above the very high costs already being spent on feeding power from individual Wind Turbines via collectors and onto the UK National Grid - i.e. they are an even further UK and UK plc overhead net cost increase we can ill afford!

    I can't see how we'll ever export any significant power to the Continent until such time as we have substantially completed the massive programme of replacing existing old Power Stations - 25 years or more away! It looks to me to be simply another unaffordable one way traffic import burden on the UK Terms of Trade and further dependence on non-UK organisations.

    If we export power from Wind Farms during low demand periods that only means the percentage of the Wind Farm Systems' rated annual power generation capacity into the UK grid falls even lower than the current recorded abysmally low level, making them even more expensive for the UK per Kwhr power generated and more unaffordable! Can the power be sold overseas at the same massively subsidised price that is being foisted on UK consumers - I very much doubt it. Those UK subsidy costs on UK consumers will then need to be increased even further!

    I wasn't aware that current UK Energy and Power strategies were designed to drive down power costs - if so why are we building grossly 100-200% more expensive Offshore Wind Farms and distorting the markets with FIT's which ultimately directly and indirectly cost everyone and every UK organisation an unnecessary great deal of extra money.

    It's about time we had experienced Engineers and Scientists as Energy, Climate Change and Environment Ministers, to knock some sense into these core infrastructure activities and avoid the ever more professionally embarrassing public utterences that the current Ministers keep making!

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  • Peter Crosthwaite

    Peter, I very much agree with your comments! Reading the "Call to slow offshore wind development" article it is at least somewhat heartening that some advisors are speaking sense, I just hope the Ministers listen. As a brand new graduate (in just 4 weeks time!) about to start work in hydro design, I am excited about the opportunity the UK has to develop it's power infrastructure and what this means for my career ahead of me. At the same time I am also concerned about the decisions being made from on high.

    The last few years I have been thinking more and more that I should get into politics...I know I must be mad! But elections, campaigning, public speaking and ultimately policy and decision making are all things that grab me (as well as the beauty of common sense problem solving.) Your comments are encouraging that I may be going along the right lines - be an engineer for a few years and get the experience then make the move to politics and bring some common sense to the proceedings! What do you think? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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  • Apologies to everyone for my post being triplicated - something wrong either my end or NCE end as the post detail isn't deleted after I have sent it and re-entry to the post later only simply inadvertently repeats my post.

    Regrettably, you should understand that this subject of the grossly inefficient engineering systems and unnecessarily grossly over-expensive and totally unaffordable power provided by Wind Farms is a classic example of politics interfering in the quality of engineering - something that any professional engineer should fight tooth and nail, kicking in a few doors, if necessary, to get policies changed. Hence the need for hands-on experienced engineers in Westminster.

    Why this Wind Farm problem has occurred, I am not certain. It could be the result of the increasing sidelining of professional engineers in the Engineering and Construction Industry by Lawyers, Quantity Surveyors and Accountants who have their own agendas; or engineering organisations chasing any work that offers totally inappropriate highly subsidised soft markets with high margins; or individuals and organisations who initially believed in Wind Farms as an appropriate cost effective and reliable Renewable Energy solution, not understanding the real total inefficiencies and massive total systems costs involved, even compared with other Renewable Systems such as the Severn Barrage (on the books as a proposal for almost 50 years) but now too embarrassed to stick their heads above the parapet in some Emperor's New Clothes dilemma, now that the real inefficiencies and massive total systems' costs have become factual records.

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