Belgium and Norway looking into hybrid interconnector
Belgian and Norwegian transmission system operators (TSOs) Elia and Statnett are investigating the economic and technical feasibility of a hybrid interconnector that would link the two countries.
The subsea cable would link the high-voltage grids of the countries while also being connected to Norwegian offshore wind farms – making it a hybrid interconnector.
The feasibility study is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. If the new interconnector is built, it will be operational by 2035.
“The success of the energy transition in Europe depends on robust collaboration between countries which produce too much renewable energy and those which produce too little. Offshore wind energy, as a mature technology, can be rapidly and massively scaled up,” said Catherine Vandenborre, Interim CEO of Elia Group.
“A hybrid interconnector with Norway would give us direct access to offshore wind farms in the far northern North Sea, an area which is characterised by a different meteorological dynamic that complements our needs. This improves security of supply and supports our energy-intensive industries and households as they transition towards the use of more sustainable electricity.”
The feasibility study for TritonLink has already been completed and the project was included in Belgium’s Federal Development Plan 2024-2034, which defines the future infrastructure investments that must be made.
Elia noted that offshore wind from the North Sea and (hybrid) interconnectors will play a crucial role in Belgium’s future energy supply and that Norway and Belgium are highly complementary in terms of their energy profiles.
While Belgium holds a limited amount of renewable energy production potential, Norway holds much more potential due to its favorable geographic location, the Belgian TSO said, adding that besides its high hydropower capacity, Norway’s large continental shelf allows for significant amounts of offshore wind energy to be produced, and its wind conditions are different from those in Belgium.
“Energy relations between Belgium and Norway are reaching new heights. Last year, our country signed a comprehensive energy cooperation agreement with Norway, and in April of this year, Norway participated in the important North Sea Summit held in Ostend,” said Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgian Federal Minister of Energy.
“The feasibility study related to the possible construction of a hybrid interconnector between our two countries is a significant and welcome continuation of this increasingly intensive partnership. Norway and Belgium complement each other well in the field of energy. Belgium is a leader in the development of offshore wind capacity and is constructing its first energy island in the North Sea, taking into account life above and below water. Norway, with its vast untapped wind potential, is a crucial energy partner today and in the future.”
Norway is also exploring options regarding the construction of hybrid interconnectors with its European counterparts. Statnett is planning to sign similar collaboration agreements with Germany’s TenneT and Amprion, Great Britain’s National Grid, and Denmark’s Energinet. However, the realization of such projects will ultimately be decided by the Norwegian government.