UK Prime Minister David Cameron is backing plans for a European supergrid linking together renewable energy developments in the North, Irish and Baltic Seas.
Speaking at the UK-Baltic-Nordic Summit in London yesterday, Cameron announced that energy ministers will work together to address planning, market, regulatory and technical issues to ensure that the right framework is put in place.
Ten European nations – the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Norway and Belgium – agreed to collaborate on the North Seas Offshore Grid Initiative (NSOGI) last December.
Another nine nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Norway (as an observer) – are planning a similar supergrid as part of the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP).
A report on the progress of the NSOGI is due in June this year, ahead of a joint meeting between countries involved in both initiatives later in the year.
“Europe’s future lies in green energy and Britain wants to work with other countries to make the most of the clean energy potential in and around the North Sea,” added Energy Secretary Chris Huhne. “We’re stepping up our efforts with our European partners to develop a North Sea electricity supergrid.”
Linking together renewable energy sources would enable the intermittency of offshore wind power, which is now heading towards a potential 100 GW across Europe, to be balanced.
For example, at times of high wind speed but low demand in the UK, electricity could be exported to neighbouring Norway to pump water through its hydroelectric power stations. Conversely, at other times when wind speeds are low, hydroelectricity could be exported from Norway back to the UK.
The UK currently leads the European offshore wind sector, according to the latest European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) statistics, with 1.34 GW, followed by Denmark (854 MW), the Netherlands (249 MW), Belgium (195 MW) and Sweden (164 MW).
Existing plans and extensions will add a further 8.4 GW to UK offshore capacity and The Crown Estate has awarded rights for an additional 32 GW of new offshore developments.
For further information:
Ten EU nations sign up to develop North Sea electricity grid (6-Dec 2010)
UK and Europe need to link up to secure a low-carbon energy supply (16-Sept 2010)
Managing calm: what to do when the wind doesn’t blow (21-Jul 2009)
21 January 2011