Towards a more stable energy market

Nuclear, supported by renewables, storage and interconnection, with a nod to carbon capture, seem to be the blend of choice for solving the UK’s future power problems.


As Britain’s offshore wind capacity scales up with the confirmation of another major farm near Hornsea [1], National Grid is already concentrating on forecasting and addressing any interruptions to the system. The recent award of eight contracts for battery assets confirmed the utility and network operator’s commitment to storage as a preferred solution for providing a streamlined service [2].

Meanwhile, National Grid has, for several years, been working on the development of an interconnector between Blyth in Northumberland and Kvilldal in Rogaland, Norway. At 730km, the link will be the largest subsea interconnector in the world in 2021, when it is scheduled to become operational [3].

This project complements two other underwater interconnectors involving Norway: NordLink to Germany and NorNed to the Netherlands. The former, slated for completion in 2020, will run for 623km and the latter, already in operation, has an extension of 580km. The UK also operates power exchange links with France, Ireland and Holland – with an additional dedicated cable between Northern Ireland and England. Continental European smart grids are already in place and the idea is to create a supergrid for maximum flexibility in power trading between countries and a much more reliable electricity supply throughout the area [4] [5].

All this is good news for keeping the lights on in Europe, taking advantage of boosts in Scandinavian hydro power at times when the wind might not be blowing off the UK or the sun shining nearer to the Mediterranean.

Something similar is happening in Asia where State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), Japan’s SoftBank Group, South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) and the Russian power company PJSC Rossetti have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to form the North Asia super grid [6].

The scheme plans to use UHV grids as a “backbone”, with an infrastructure platform on which clean energy can be developed, transmitted, and used worldwide. This backbone will transmit electricity at more than 1,000 kV AC and 800 kV DC across regions, nations and even continents. Nine such grids are already in operation or being constructed in China, whose northern regions boast vast renewable resources. In July 2016, the SoftBank Group, KEPCO, and Mongolian investment company Newcom LLC signed an MoU to invest in and develop renewable energy projects in Mongolia for subsequent integration into the proposed North Asia super grid. [6]

Jinlong Ma, Principal Consultant at DNV GL – Energy who has been closely involved with the consortium says:

“The concept of North Asia super grid has drawn strong interest in the region, to be interconnected and become part of a global energy grid providing abundant, low-cost electricity based on renewable energy resources.”

[1] The Guardian. Second phase of world’s biggest offshore windfarm gets go-ahead.

[2] National Grid. Enhanced Frequency Response.

[3] ABB. North Sea Link.

[4] European Commission. Intelligent Energy Europe.

[5] Power Technology. Continental Power: operating the Super Grid

[6] China Daily. Grid backs Northeast Asia energy co-operation