LONDON (Reuters) - The new North Sea Link power cable linking Norway and Britain began commercial operations on Friday, Britain’s National Grid said, improving the UK's energy security as it grapples with soaring energy costs.
British power prices have hit record highs amid skyrocketing global natural gas prices, outages at some nuclear plants and lower than usual wind power output.
The 1.6 billion euro ($1.85 billion) North Sea Link cable will be able to channel up to 1.4 gigawatts of electricity between the two countries when it reaches full capacity in around three months time, enough to power around 1.4 million homes.
“When demand is high in Britain and there is low wind generation, hydropower can be imported from Norway, helping to ensure secure, affordable and sustainable electricity supplies for UK consumers,” National Grid said in a statement.
The 720-km long cable, developed by National Grid and Norway’s power system operator Statnett, has taken six years to build.
"The world's longest subsea electrical interconnector is in trial operation and connects the British and Norwegian power systems directly for the first time," Statnett CEO Hilde Tonne said in a separate statement.
"This interconnector will facilitate more renewable production in both countries," she added.
Trading of day-ahead capacity on the cable started on Thursday at exchange Nord Pool, with power flowing from Norway to Britain on the first day of operations.
Britain already has power links with Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Ireland.
It is expected to increase its power imports over the next few years, with more links planned such as the Viking Link with Denmark.
($1 = 0.8635 euros)
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale and Nora Buli in Oslo; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jason Neely)