Norway-UK interconnector hits a snag with license application refusal

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has rejected the license application for the construction and operation of a 1.4 GW overseas interconnector between Norway and the UK.

NorthConnect Limited

The ministry reported on 16 March that after an overall assessment, it had come to the conclusion that there is no basis for granting a license to the NorthConnect project as it stands today and there is also no basis for the application to continue to be suspended.

Furthermore, other considerations that were emphasized relate to limitations in grid capacity between northern and southern parts of the country, the uncertainty of and the consequences of increased exposure of the Norwegian power system to energy systems in other countries, as well as major changes underway in the Norwegian and European energy system and the power market.

To remind, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced in February its decision to resume the license processing of the application for the development of NorthConnect after the processing was put on hold back in 2020 as there was no sufficient basis for making a decision.

“It is important for the government to ensure that we have a power system that meets the basic objectives of power supply at all times. We need the output capacity in hydropower and will not expose it to further export. In my opinion, the consequences of establishing a new overseas cable indicate that a license will not be granted for the project,” said Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Aasland.

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The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) previously assessed the NorthConnect project as socio-economically profitable, however, even if it is still economically profitable, that alone is not sufficient for a license to be granted, the ministry stated. 

In the ministry’s view, consideration of increased security of supply is not an argument that a license should be granted.

“We need to use Norwegian energy to build Norwegian industry and contribute to competitive prices in Norway. The experience gained from the last two foreign cables indicates that we should not plan for further exports now. That is why we say no to this private foreign cable,” said Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy finally concluded that it may become relevant to increase exchange capacity in the future, but this will be several years ahead. 

NorthConnect is a joint venture between the Scandinavian companies Lyse, Agder Energi, Hafslund E-Co and Vattenfall.

On the UK side of the link, the plan is to have the subsea cable come to land in Scotland, near Long Haven Bay, and connect to a converter station at Fourfields near Boddam. Similar infrastructure is proposed at the Norwegian landfall at Sima at the end of Hardangerfjord, with a converter station in Simadalen.

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