The Skaggerak subsea power cable connects Norway with Denmark. The NorNed cable connects Norway with the Netherlands. By 2019 the Nordlink cable will connect Norway with Germany and by 2021 the NSN cable will connect Norway with the UK. And now Scotland wants to connect with Norway via the NorthConnect link:
Figure 1: Existing, in progress and planned interconnectors with Norway
Why are these countries so anxious to connect to Norway? Because Norway’s hydro reservoirs are regarded as a large-scale storage battery that can be used to smooth out large quantities of intermittent renewables generation. The 2013 Joint Norwegian-German Declaration says as much:
Thanks to its natural endowments and previous investments, Norway possesses 50% of Europe’s entire power storage capacities. Therefore, Norway is in a position to provide large-scale, cost-effective, and emission-free indirect storage to balance wind and solar generation in other countries ….. In times of high wind or solar production, Norway can import cheap electricity from abroad, thereby saving water in its reservoirs. In times of low wind production, Norway can use the stored water to export power at higher prices. In this way, excess wind or solar production can be stored and used later.
On the face of it this looks like a win-win proposition. Germany and its renewables-heavy, storage-challenged neighbors get to store the intermittent wind and solar power they couldn’t otherwise use in Norwegian reservoirs and Norway makes money selling it back to them. But how is it going to work out in practice? Here we look into this question.