Energy Union: Germany, Norway to link grids

Europe’s Energy Union continues to take shape as Germany and Norway move forward with plans to connect their power grids.

Swiss engineering giant ABB has won orders valued at $900 million from a consortium comprising leading Norwegian and Dutch utilities Statnett and TenneT as well as German development bank KfW to supply on-shore high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter stations and the cable system in the German sector that will facilitate the first ever interconnection between the German and Norwegian power grids.

The link will extend 623 kilometers, making it the longest HVDC connection in Europe. It is scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2020. The contract also includes a five-year service agreement.

"We are very pleased to be working with TenneT and Statnett on another landmark project that will support the integration of the European energy market," said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. "The smart combination of renewable power generation, e.g. solar and wind in Germany and hydro-electric in Norway, demonstrates that we can technologically enable a sustainable green energy policy across Europe."

NordLink will be key in connecting Norway with Germany and has been designated as one of the European CommissionÂ’s projects of common interest to help create an integrated European Union energy market. It will increase energy security in both countries and support the integration of renewable energy into the countriesÂ’ grids by allowing surplus wind and solar power produced in Germany to be transmitted to Norway, and hydroelectric power to be transmitted in the opposite direction. The link will transmit power at a record capacity of 1.4 GW — enough to supply 3.6 million German households.

ABB will design, engineer, supply and commission two 525 kV, 1.4 GW converter stations using its Voltage Sourced Converter (VSC) technology, known as HVDC Light. One station will be situated near Tonstad in southern Norway and the other near Wilster in northern Germany.

As part of the project, ABB will also design, manufacture and install a 525 kV mass impregnated (MI) cable system in the German sector that will include 154 kilometers of subsea and 54 kilometers of underground cable.

ABB has won about 100 HVDC projects since it pioneered the technology 60 years ago. That represents a total installed capacity of more than 120 GW and accounts for about half the global installed base.

The European Union unveiled its grand Energy Union plan in February. Efforts to integrate Europe’s energy market include the recent interconnection of the Spanish and French grids as well as the coupling of Italy’s electricity market with the neighbouring markets of France, Austria and Slovenia.