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The British and Danish electricity grids are physically connected for the first time, following the completion of cable works on the Viking Link interconnector.
The final section of the state-of-art-high voltage subsea cable, which joins Bicker Fen in Lincolnshire with Jutland in Denmark, was completed offshore in the North Sea by Prysmian’s Cable Laying Vessel 'Leonardo da Vinci' and its team.
The £1.7 billion (€2 billion) project is a joint venture between National Grid and Danish system operator Energinet. It will be the world’s longest land and subsea interconnector – stretching for 475 miles between the two countries. Due to be complete by the end of the year, it will enable the sharing of enough green electricity to power 1.4 million UK homes.
The complex cable joining process took place in Danish waters and took several days to complete. It involved lifting the sections of cables out of the water and expertly joining each conductor/strand together on the Cable Laying Vessel.
Viking Link is National Grid’s sixth interconnector. The company already has five operational cables joining the UK with France (IFA and IFA2), The Netherlands (BritNed), Belgium (Nemo Link) and Norway (North Sea Link).
Once in operation, Viking Link will enable fast and flexible energy to be shared between the two countries, from where it is generated to where it is needed most. Flowing at the flick of a switch, interconnectors can respond quickly to changes in supply and demand, making them an ideal partner to intermittent renewable energy.
Rebecca Sedler, Managing Director for Interconnectors, said: “This is a fantastic moment for the UK and Denmark, and a key milestone for the world record project, as we join the electricity networks of our two countries for the first time. After years of planning and construction work, today’s announcement is testament to the hard work and dedication of our team and our partners on both sides of the connection.
“Interconnectors bring huge benefits to the UK, acting as clean energy super-highways, allowing us to move surplus green energy from where it is generated to where it is needed the most. That means that we can import cheaper and cleaner energy from our neighbours when we need it, and vice versa.
“As countries begin to integrate more offshore wind generation into their energy systems, interconnectors will become critical for transporting clean and green energy and helping to manage the intermittent nature of renewable sources.”
Construction on Viking Link started in 2019 and so far, more than three million working hours have been spent on planning and construction. The HVDC cable, manufactured and laid by Prysmian and NKT, is made from copper, steel, paper and plastic and is buried on the seabed.
Between 2020 and 2030 National Grid expects its interconnectors will have helped the UK to avoid around 100 million tonnes of carbon emissions, and by 2030 90% of the energy imported through the company’s interconnectors will be from zero carbon energy sources.
Earlier this year National Grid announced plans for a 1.8GW Offshore Hybrid Asset (OHA) between the UK and the Netherlands, called LionLink. A second OHA called Nautilus is also in the planning phase, with the potential to connect with Belgium and supply enough electricity to meet the needs of 1.4 million UK homes.
Offshore Hybrid Assets are the next phase of interconnection, not only joining two countries together but also connecting with offshore wind generation. OHAs support UK and EU efforts to meet 2030 and 2050 offshore wind targets, speed up the displacement of fossil fuelled power stations and, crucially, have the potential to reduce the impact on the environment and coastal communities with fewer individual connections.
Find out more about National Grid's interconnectors, how they work and their role in decarbonising the energy system.
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