The North Sea Link - A glimpse of the Future?
Updated: Dec 17, 2021
In 2012, David Cameron and the Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg signed the Energy Partnership for Sustainable Growth; a milestone for achieving “affordable and sustainable long term energy” links between the United Kingdom and Norway. The practical success of this agreement is manifestly clear in the North Sea Link, which became operational on the 1st October 2021.
As heralded by the President of the National Grid Ventures, Cordi O’Hara, this is a “truly remarkable feat of engineering”. Once fully operational, the 720km cable running between Blyth (UK) and Kvilldal (Norway), will be capable of providing 12.3TWh to the UK national grid per year. This is made possible through the cables 1,400 Mw capacity, which will transfer renewable energy to an estimated 1.4 million UK homes.
A key success of the North Sea Link is the ability to better harness and distribute renewable energy, which is so readily provided by earths natural resources. The interconnecting deep sea cable has allowed the UK to tap into the vast resource of hydropower energy contained in the Norwegian fjords. Equally, in times of low energy output in the UK, surplus wind energy generated in offshore wind farms can be transferred to Norway. Maximising the use of renewable energy through the North Sea Link will prevent 23 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by 2030.
If the fjords of Norway are capable of warming UK homes, what possibilities lie in store for powering UK business in the future with a purely sustainable energy supply? Or taking it one step further, can this technology be implemented on a global scale, as a key actor in attaining Net Zero 2050?
Sun Cable is certainly endeavouring to provide an answer through the construction of the “largest renewable energy transmission network” on earth; the Australia-Asia Power Link. This project once complete, will transfer solar energy captured in the Simpson Desert (Australia, Northern Territory) across the sea bed, through Indonesia, to Singapore. The 5,000km extension cable is set to provide 15% of Singapore’s electricity demand by 2028. Fundamentally, this available technology will facilitate the “electrification of new and existing industries, supporting large-scale economic development, whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
Increasingly, businesses globally are incorporating the use of sustainable energy practices, as social pressure and stringent governmental regulations clamp down on practices which are harmful for the environment. Apple, one of the most economically affluent TNC’s in the world, powers 100% of its global facilities, including retail stores, offices and data centres across 43 different countries on clean, sustainable energy. Apple has achieved this through the development of 25 renewable energy projects globally, providing 626Mw of energy output per year.
If companies such as Apple are capable of running on renewable energy, and set to be carbon neutral by 2030, why are smaller businesses worldwide still relying energy produced through the burning fossil fuels?
The answer is simple, smaller businesses simply don’t have the funds, or technological expertise to create their own source of renewable energy supplies.
This is where government and investor led projects, such as the North Sea Link and Sun Cable’s A-A Power Link, provide the answer. Initiatives to implement power link cables are capable of connecting international and cross continental energy grids, in order to transfer renewable energy to power homes and businesses on a global scale. The potential of such technology is exponential, with the Sahara Desert located in Northern Africa, and the Arabian desert located in western Asia, solar farms in time could be used to power industry across Europe.
In Europe alone, there are 290 automobile assembly and engine production plants combined. At the top end, one plant producing a daily total of 1,000 cars will consume up to 200,000 MWh of energy per year; similar to that of a medium sized town. Taking the engineering model of the North Sea Link and Sun Cable, renewable energy could be transported from solar farms in Africa and hydropower plants in southern Europe, to power high energy consuming industries such as car manufacturing.
Whilst the sun is shining, wind is blowing and water is flowing, with the advent of interconnecting power cables, what prevents the future of global business turning green?