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Advantages of cross-border energy interconnection between UK and Europe

Green Alliance: UK must look to EU interconnection amid ‘crumbling’ nuclear plans, Business Green, Michael Holder, 21 January 2019

  “……… New analysis by the environmental think tank highlights myriad benefits for the UK from trade in electricity with European countries, but warns leaving the EU – particularly under a ‘no-deal’ scenario – threatens to undermine opportunities to enhance cross-border interconnection.

Published on Friday, the analysis shows that a mix of increased electricity interconnection with the EU in addition to installing more renewable energy in the UK would help to keep consumer bills down, boost access to and trade in clean power, and also maintain energy security, in the face of on-going struggles to deliver planned new nuclear projects.

It follows Japanese firm Hitachi’s announcement last week that it has halted construction of the £16bn Wylfa nuclear project in Wales after failing to agree a funding support package with the government. Hitachi’s plans for another nuclear plant in Gloucestershire have also been shelved.

Green Alliance said trading power across borders with Europe could help reduce energy sector emissions in the short term without the need to build more capacity, and that interconnection could also help provide instant back up power when needed at peak times.

It also highlights the economic benefits of interconnection, with cross border trading delivering a combined value of £700m to UK markets in 2017, according to Friday’s analysis.

However, leaving the EU without a deal could cost the UK as much as £2.2bn per year at the current level of interconnection, the think tank warned.

Similar research by climate think tank E3G recently argued the merits of the UK maintaining membership of the EU internal energy market in order to fully realise the cost and carbon benefits of electricity interconnection with Europe.

At present, the UK is one of the least interconnected countries in Europe, and it therefore has the most to gain from improving its power connections with the rest of the continent, argued Chaitanya Kumar, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance……….

In the short term, Kumar suggested boosting interconnection could help strengthen the case for scaling up UK renewables capacity, and that negotiating continued participation in the EU’s internal energy market should therefore be a crucial part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, particularly as the government’s nuclear energy plans “are crumbling”.

“Instead of doubling down on subsidised, expensive nuclear, the government should now be focusing on building cheaper alternatives in more renewables and electricity interconnection with Europe,” he said. “The UK’s climate ambitions are not under any immediate threat from the failed nuclear plans, but that can only be guaranteed if the existing alternatives are scaled up.”

The report follows news last week that plans for a new interconnector between Peterhead and the Norway took a step forward, after securing planning permission from Aberdeenshire Council.

The North Connect transmission link would see a 415-mile cable link Peterhead with the Norwegian Coast, providing up to 1.4GW of power between the two countries from 2023.

A number of similar projects are in the pipeline, but experts fear their prospects are largely dependent on the UK securing a Brexit agreement with the EU that allows for streamlined energy trading – something that is not guaranteed under a ‘no deal’ scenario. https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3069586/green-alliance-uk-must-look-to-eu-interconnection-amid-crumbling-nuclear-plans

January 22, 2019 - Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE, politics international

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