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Expanded network of submarine cables connects Britain to green power


“Interconnections are a really essential tool for enabling countries to decarbonise their energy systems,” said Cordi O’Hara, chairman of National Grid Ventures, the unit that built the Norwegian link with Statnett for 1.6 billion euros. euros ($ 1.8 billion). “When the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining in one area, they can have access to renewable resources from other places,” she added.

Britain and countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are making big plans to transform the North Sea, long a hub for oil and gas, into one of the world’s great generators of renewable energy. The UK government, for example, aims to almost quadruple the offshore wind capacity of Britain, already a world leader, over the next decade.

“We see the North Sea as this green powerhouse for electricity,” Ms. O’Hara said.

Among the possibilities: cables that would operate some of the huge offshore wind farms that could be built in the years to come, sending that electricity to several countries, and man-made energy islands that could have not only wind turbines but others. clean energy facilities like hydrogen generators.

For submarine cables, “there is no limitation in terms of length,” said Bjorn Sanden, technical director at Nexans, a Norwegian company responsible for much of the cabling on the link between Great- Brittany and Norway. Plans under discussion, such as a 2,600-mile submarine link that would carry solar power from Australia to Singapore, are theoretically feasible, if the economy can work, he said.

Britain’s plans for the North Sea could be made more complex by the country’s difficult ties with its former European partners. It has been excluded from a European electricity pricing system, making its interconnections heavier to use, said Chris Matson, a partner at LCP, a consultancy firm. In October, the French Minister for Europe, Clément Beaune, even suggested that Europe could cut Britain’s energy supply during a dispute over fishing rights.