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The Norway Interconnector: NSL

At the time it began operation in 2021 NSL was the longest under-sea electricity cable in the world.

The 725km cable links Blyth in Northumberland with Kvilldal in Norway.

The NSL Link was described as "two countries working together to maximise their renewable energy resources for mutual benefit."

More specifically the link was said to "allow the UK to swap wind energy for Norway's hydropower".

The link even won awards, including the EEI International Edison Award fror the link that "allows the UK and Norway to share renewable energy".

What changed?

In the early days that GB started importing power from Norway (about 700MW for a while, now about 1400MW) the availability of that power was very good.

Indeed, from Sep 2021 when we first received 700MW to Feb 2022 and beyond it was almost always one-way traffic, exceeding 1GW for much of the time.

But from Dec 2021 things were changing, and we were starting to export power more frequently, and in the early months of 2022 exports were becoming more and more common.

Why?

Why did it change and what are the consequences?

The fundamental cause is given as falling levels in Norway's reservoirs.

In early August 2022 there were various reports such as this one, which also points out that electricity prices in Norway are "rocketing".

One important consequence of this is sumamrised in the words of Norway's oil and energy minister Terje Aasland: "When there is little water in the hydroelectric water reservoirs, Norway will come first".

GB should not rely on NSL Interconnector imports.

Imports from Norway cannot be seen as a reliable supply to satisfy GB baseload demand.

But there's quite a lot of "deception" going on here ...

Many of the linked items above describe the NSL Link as allowing GB and Norway to "exchange renewable energy", or more specicially "exchange hydro from Norway with wind from GB".

The National Grid even won an award on that basis.

Whilst it seems clear that Norway provides GB specifically with 100% clean hydro, how is it possible that GB supplies Norway with renewable energy, and specifically wind energy?

How is the GB "end" of the link at Blyth set up so that it only exports renewable energy?

Is GB really exporting excess renewable energy?

And if you think it must be, consider this.

Last Monday morning (1 August 2022) GB was exporting about 1GW to Norway but all GB wind was only generating less tham 0.5GW.

GB was burning a lot of coal, and it was generating about twice as much as all wind was.

And - as always - GB was relying heavily on CCGT Gas.

In what way was GB "exporting excess wind power"?

Is it really true that GB has been and is only exporting excess renewable energy?

Table shwoing exports to Norway via NSL