Invisible energy highways could usher in a new era of shared power
Undersea power cables could become increasingly common as governments steer their energy strategies toward renewables. As countries develop their wind and solar energy industries, there will be greater incentive to build undersea cables that can promote power sharing between regions. The first of many major new cables is set to be built between the UK and Germany at an expected cost of $1.95 billion. The NeuConnect project will allow 1.4 GW of electricity to come and go from both countries via submarine cables covering a distance of more than 450 miles. The project has been called “highway of invisible energy”, allowing power sharing between the UK and Germany. The cable will run from the Isle of Grain in Kent in England with the German region of Wilhelmshaven, crossing UK, Dutch and German waters. Once built, it could power up to 1.5 million homes.
Approved contracts include work on cables and converter stations, with Siemens and Prysmian having won contracts for work on the project. Siemens will supply a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system, while Italian cable manufacturer Prysmian Group will supply manage the design, manufacture, installation, testing and commissioning of the NeuConnect interconnect.
Construction is due to start this year, allowing the UK to “tap into the extensive energy infrastructure in Germany, including its important sources of renewable energy. Additionally, “the new link to Britain will help alleviate current bottlenecks where wind turbines are frequently shut down due to excess renewable energy being created.”
Tim Holt, from the board of directors of Siemens Energy, explains the project: “if we want to switch to renewable energy quickly, safely and cheaply, we can no longer afford to reduce wind energy because of the bottlenecks network bottlenecks and to cover demand elsewhere with fuel-based electricity generation.” Furthermore, “the electricity connection between Germany and Great Britain represents the growing integration of the European electricity market Efficient, cross-border electricity connections unite countries in their decarbonization efforts – a perfect example that we can only achieve the energy transition together.
The NeuConnect consortium, led by Meridiam, Kansai Electric Power and Allianz Capital Partners, has been discussing the development for some time, but sanctions on Russia have pushed European governments to seek alternative power sources much faster. In addition to seeking alternative oil and gas supplies, several governments are strategizing on how to accelerate their renewable energy projects and are even discussing increase nuclear capacity for the first time in years.
Related: EU and OPEC meet as Europe discusses Russian oil embargo
However, it is not the first undersea cable to be approved in Europe, with operations starting last year on a giant undersea cable which is set to link the UK to Norway. Measuring 450 miles, the $1.86 billion North Sea Link (NSL) is a joint venture between Britain’s National Grid and Norway’s Statnett.
The two countries want to share Norway’s hydro resources and the UK’s wind resources, allowing each to optimize its production to meet demand. The national grid Explain“When demand is high in Britain and wind generation is low, hydropower can be imported from Norway.”
Both the UK and Norway are big oil and gas players. But Norway claims that its electricity comes from 98% renewable energy production, mainly hydroelectricity. Meanwhile, in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared the goal of 100% British Electricity come from renewable sources by 2035.
And submarine cable projects are not only underway in Europe, but span different continents. Last year, Greece and Egypt have announced that they are in talks on a potential 2 GW submarine interconnector crossing the Mediterranean Sea to connect the countries’ networks.
It would be the first of its kind to link Europe to Africa, showing the huge potential for greater inter-regional connectivity. And Greece is also adopting plans for a EuroAsia interconnector, which would run from Israel to mainland Greece via Cyprus.
When completed, the cable will be 1,500 km long and will transport between 1 GW and 2 GW of electricity between regions, connecting power grids across Israel, Cyprus and Greece. Although early forecasts expected the cable to be completed by 2022, new estimates suggest it will be completed in 2024, at a cost of nearly $823 million. The funding will come in part from the EU and will support the end of Cyprus’ energy isolation.
While many of these projects are still in their infancy, with an increased need for greater energy security in Europe and the rest of the world, we can expect to see the acceleration of renewable energies and related projects over the next few years. Governments around the world have quickly become aware of their dependence on Russia for oil and gas, leading them to seek alternative sources as well as to invest more massively and quickly in the establishment of projects. renewable energy.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
More reading on Oilprice.com: