The Norwegian Government has decided to decline a licence application for a new interconnector between Norway and the UK.
Dubbed NorthConnector, the 1.4 GW interconnector was proposed by joint venture partners Lyse, Agder Energi, Hafslund E-Co and Vattenfall. The project had already been on hold for three years but had its application reopened by the Norwegian Government, who decided to reject the proposal.
According to Offshore Energy, the application was rejected for several reasons, including fears surrounding the Norwegian power grid being exposed to the power system of other countries, as well as an imbalance over grid capacity in the north and south of Norway.
Norway is already one of Europe’s largest exporters of power, having overtaken France in 2021, but the energy crisis across the continent has led to many countries to demand more power than ever before. Meanwhile, the UK has been a net importer of electricity for years, although that is beginning to change thanks to a glut of renewable generation.
The rejection will be a blow for the UK, which has been gradually growing its fleet of interconnectors over the past few years. That includes the world’s longest subsea interconnector, which coincidentally is already in operation between the UK and Norway.
However, despite making progress with the installation of more interconnectors, there have been a few projects that have seen similar rejections. A new interconnector between the UK and France, dubbed Aquind, was refused planning permission in January 2022, although that has since been overturned by the High Court following an appeal.
For the NorthConnector it appears to be the end of the road, however. Terje Aasland, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, noted, “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 licence will not be granted for the project.”