Norway Will Vote on Plan to Ban Merchant Power Links, U.K. Cable

Norway plans to grant state-owned grid operator Statnett SF ownership of cross-border electricity cables after companies including Vattenfall AB said the proposal would hamper the development of links.

The government today submitted the amendment to parliament to ensure Statnett can control flows, it said in an e-mailed statement. That effectively bans so-called merchant, or privately owned, cross-border cables.

The proposal has been open for public consultation since September, drawing criticism from Vattenfall’s Northconnect project and Energy Norway, the country’s power industry association, as well as opposition political parties. The plan would improve energy security and make the electricity grid more efficient, the government said today.

“I am concerned about the overall management of the power-transmission grid,” Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe said in the statement. Giving Statnett control of power links will “help coordinate power imports and exports between Norway and other countries,” he said.

Planned merchant cable projects include the 1,400-megawatt Northconnect between Norway and the U.K. to be built by Vattenfall, E-CO Energi AS, Agder Energi AS and Lyse Energi AS. Statnett and the U.K.’s National Grid Plc are planning a separate 1,400-megawatt cable linking the countries that would also be completed by 2020.

“The government aims to pass the law before the summer,” Odd Oeygarden, chairman of the Northconnect owners group, said today by telephone from Kristiansand, Norway. “We will not give up on the project, but instead continue to follow further developments and study the details of the proposal, as well as the impact on NorthConnect.”

Nordlink, NorGer

Separately, Statnett and TenneT Holding BV plan to build a 1,400-megawatt undersea cable from Germany to Norway by 2018, called Nordlink. Together with the cable to the U.K., it is intended to allow Norway to export excess hydropower output and allow Germany and the U.K. to offset intermittent production from wind and solar power, according to the company.

Within 10 years of the completion of Nordlink, Statnett will build another 1,400-megawatt cable to Germany, called NorGer, the company said on March 6.

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