Plans to build the first subsea cable between Germany and Norway have taken a step forward with an agreement between the countries’ transmission operators and German bank KfW. Meanwhile Statnett and National Grid have signed an agreement to confirm their plans to develop an interconnector between Norway and the UK, aiming to have it operational by 2020.

Under the ‘Norger’ deal, transmission operators Statnett and TenneT, and KfW, have linked up as equity partners. Statnett holds a 50% share, with KfW and TenneT each holding 25%. The 1.4 GW link would allow fluctuations in German wind-energy generation to be compensated by the hydro-power that dominates the Norwegian electricity market.

It was originally expected to be completed by 2015, but in August, Statnett decided that southern Norway’s grid would need to be strengthened before the project could go ahead. ‘New analyses show that extensive grid upgrades are necessary before any further international connectors can be put into operation,’ it said.

The Norway-Germany link is the first of a number planned or proposed for the North Sea, including a Denmark–UK interconnector, and the 700 MW Skagerrak 4 link between Norway and Denmark. Other links in the pipeline include the Norway-Scotland interconnector and an HDVC Norway to England link.

This latter is a North Sea Network (NSN) project, regarded as key to further development of the North-European power grid. Following three years of joint feasibility and development work, Statnett and National Grid International have signed an agreement confirming their intention to continue towards an investment decision for the construction of a submarine interconnector between the two countries. National Grid and Statnett are currently carrying out a joint seabed survey along the planned route and will now focus on obtaining the necessary regulatory and environmental agreements and concessions as well as preparing for the procurement of some 700 km of cable and two converter stations. A key milestone will be the submittal of the Norwegian Trade Concession Application to the Norwegian energy ministry in the first half of 2013.

The interconnector will contribute to further integration of the North-European power markets and strengthen the North-European power grid, thereby buoying ambitions for increased renewable energy production in the whole region and supporting the EU’s 2020 goals. The interconnector is a cornerstone in the network development plans for the countries surrounding the North Sea basin, and of high priority to the companies involved. The interconnector, with a planned capacity of up to 1400 MW, is expected to be completed by 2020. Once operational, it will be the world’s longest subsea power cable.

Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid said: ‘This is a huge and innovative project – it will use state of the art technology to create the longest interconnector in the world and would link Norway’s flexible, clean hydro power into the UK market to strengthen energy supplies for both countries. This link will help deliver secure, affordable power to consumers as Europe moves towards using more and more renewable energy. ‘

‘This announcement is an important milestone and underlines that the partnership is ready to move ahead towards an investment decision and subsequent realisation of the project’ says Auke Lont, CEO of Statnett. .’The interconnector … will mark a substantial technological achievement, and the agreement provides a strong signal that our companies remain committed to deliver on common ambitions for a North-European power network. I am looking forward to moving this project forward together with National Grid”.