(Bloomberg) — The first commercial flows of renewable electricity between Norway and the UK are set to start early Friday, providing some relief to Britain as it grapples with an energy crisis that’s cascading through the economy and putting suppliers out of business.
National Grid Plc’s 1.6 billion-euro ($1.9 billion) North Sea Link is meant to be a two-way cable, but the huge premium for UK power this autumn ensures that the flow will go in one direction initially. Supply will be limited to about half of the interconnector’s 1,400-megawatt capacity, with plans to gradually increase to full output by the start of next year.
A global energy shortage triggered record power prices in the UK last month and forced at least 10 small suppliers to shut down. The country’s risk of winter blackouts increased when a subsea connector with France was knocked out by a fire. The Norwegian link will be a key part of Britain’s effort to reach net-zero targets, avoiding 23 million tons of carbon emissions by 2030 and eventually powering as many as 1.4 million homes, National Grid said in a statement.
“The UK has a strong energy bond with Norway that goes back decades,” said Greg Hands, the minister for energy, clean growth and climate change. “North Sea Link is strengthening that bond and enabling both nations to benefit from the flexibility and energy security that interconnectors provide.”
Flows on the cable will be determined by traders on both sides of the North Sea, with the power going where prices are highest.
The 720-kilometer (447-mile) cable took six years to build and started testing in June. Its performance will help determine whether Norway should have a second link with the UK
This is the fifth interconnector for National Grid, which also operates links to Belgium, France and the Netherlands. A new one with Denmark is slated to start operating in 2023.
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