offshore windfarm

UK and North Sea countries sign deal to build energy interconnectors

The UK has signed an agreement with the EU and other countries bordering the North Sea to develop renewable energy facilities.

The deal is intended to foster greater collaboration on development of offshore renewable energy and grid infrastructure that will be needed for the to meet UK net zero carbon goals.

The initiative could help to support the UK targets to increase offshore wind more than fivefold to 50GW by 2030 - up from 8.4 GW today.

The agreement was signed with the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) which is an EU body overseeing an offshore energy grid that links nine countries in the North Sea region.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the European Commission are currently members of the NSEC, since the withdrawal of the UK from the EU in 2020.

Energy minister Graham Stuart said: “I’m pleased to agree even greater energy cooperation with our North Seas neighbours, which will be vital in helping the UK meet it ambitious renewables target, including increasing offshore wind fivefold to 50GW by 2030.

“The development of renewables in the North Seas is critical for accelerating our clean transition and boosting energy security for the UK and our European neighbours.”

The UK currently sends and receives electricity through cables that link it with neighbours like France, Belgium and the Netherlands. This can be beneficial to net zero goals as it allows excess renewable energy to be transported to other countries where it can be used instead of fossil fuel generated energy.

The new agreement should help to further increase interconnection between the energy grids of different North Sea countries.

In September last year, a fire at an interconnector linking the French and British power networks caused wholesale electricity prices to soar. 

The interconnector is still only operating at 50 per cent capacity, or 1,000MW, but this is expected to ramp up early next year.

Analysis by National Grid Electricity System Operator shows that a well-integrated grid linked to offshore wind farms can deliver savings to consumers of up to around £3bn.

As well as renewable energy, the North Sea is still a prominent area for exploiting oil and gas resources. In October, the North Sea Transition Authority called for a series of new measures to boost output.

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