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Say Watt? Germany and Norway secure supply through NordLink

Monday, 19 April 2021

In a bid to combat the intermittencies experienced with renewable energy, Germany is now coupling its power grid to Norway's through the NordLink over 500km undersea cable.

The NordLink undersea cable developed by Statnett in cooperation with grid company TenneT and investment bank KfW in Germany to connect the Norwegian and German electicity grids has successfully completed trial operations and has now begun regular operations. The construction work for the line began much earlier in 2016.

The subsea cable is over 500km long with a 1.4 TWh capacity and is located between the Tonstad/Ertsmyra in Sirdal municipality in Norway and Wilster in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. 

NordLink creates a link between the capacity of hydroelectric power plants to act as a huge battery in Norway for the intermittent wind farms in Germany. The power cable is expected to stabilise the intermittencies from renewable energy, ensure security of supply in both countries and increase the market for power producers when there is a surplus of power in the national markets. For example, when there is a surplus of renewable energy supply in Germany, Norway would have the option to conserve its hydropower resources and import this energy and vice versa. 

During NordLink's trial operation in December 2020, TenneT COO Tim Meyerjürgens said "Today, we have directly connected the electricity markets of Norway and Germany for the first time. The Green Cable is calculated to be able to supply around 3.6 million households with climate-neutral energy. Norwegian hydropower and German wind energy complement each other in this system in an optimal way."

The electricity price difference between Norway and Germany will determine the direction of the electricity flow. It can be expected that in most cases the country exporting will be the one that brings the lower price into the market.

 This has been welcomed news in Germany. Earlier in the year data showed that for the first time in 2020 the renewables share for electricity generation exceeded 50% in Germany. However, despite the countries aggressive efforts to expand its wind and solar capacities, there was some doubt on whether this data showed a complete picture as some attributed this feat to COVID-related low electricity consumption rates with favorable weather conditions. Additionally, with the North-to-South electricity bottlenecks experienced in the country, the NordLink line is expected to bring about more energy security and stability in the country. 


Speigel (in German)