Connecting Britain To A European Supergrid
May 11, 2011 - Damian Carrington - sustainablecitiesnet.com
From “BritNed power cable boosts hopes for European supergrid” by Damian Carrington:
It stretches 260km under the North Sea, contains 23,000 tonnes of copper and lead, and may represent the first step towards a renewable energy revolution based on a European electricity “supergrid”. The £500m BritNed cable, which has just entered operation, is the first direct current electricity link from the UK to another country in 25 years. The high voltage cable, a joint venture between the UK National Grid and the Dutch grid operator TenneT, has a capacity of 1,000MW, the equivalent of a nuclear power station. It runs from the Isle of Grain in Kent to Maasvlakte, near Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.
High voltage DC (HVDC) cables allow electricity to be transmitted over much greater distances than existing alternating current lines, which start losing power after 80km. A network of HVDC cables across Europe is seen as the key to “weather-proofing” the large scale use of renewable energy, some forms of which are intermittent and have to be balanced in real time with generation elsewhere. “Our investment in this interconnector means that we are joining a much wider European electricity market,” said Nick Winser, executive director of National Grid. “This ability we now have to move power across national borders means we can use the full potential of renewable energy from wind – making it easier to import when wind is not available and export when there is a surplus.”
In the short term, linking the UK and European grids boosts the UK’s energy security and helps stabilise wholesale energy prices. Chris Huhne, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: “Renewables win as it means surplus wind power can be easily shared [and] consumers win as a single European market puts pressure on prices.”
“This is a major step,” said Louise Hutchins, head of UK energy campaigns at Greenpeace. “It sends a signal to renewable manufacturers that we’re a step closer to unlocking the potential of one the world’s main renewable power houses – the North Sea.”
Read the full article by Damian Carrington on the Guardian.