Power project overcomes environment challenge to pass halfway point

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Construction of the longest subsea power cable in the world – from Norway to the North East coast – has passed the halfway point despite a major environmental challenge.

The North Sea Link will see a subsea electricity cable installed from Norway to Cambois, in Northumberland, to help the UK tap into the Scandinavian country’s hydro-electric energy supply.

Initial work on the project, which is a joint venture between National Grid and Norwegian system operator Statnett, saw the companies having to lay cable through the Suldalsvatnet lake, which cannot be accessed by normal cable lying vessels.

Instead, the team transported materials piece by piece to build its own custom-made floating platform.

Working at depths of up to 210 metres, the laying of the 2.8km subsea cables was carried out from a platform equivalent to the size of two tennis courts.

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Nigel Williams, construction director for National Grid North Sea link, said: “The engineering that has taken place to lay high-voltage cables below the seabed is remarkable.

“The difficult terrain, the depth of the waters, and all in amidst of operating during a pandemic has made it extremely challenging. Nevertheless, we have powered through and remained on track with our project timelines.”

The next milestone is to lay the cable out from the fjords in Suldal, to the North Sea this summer, followed by the laying of two parallel 720km cables between Cambois and Kvilldal, in Norway, to make the longest subsea power cable interconnector in the world.

The link will allow the UK to import enough clean energy to power up to 1.4m homes, and will work when power from wind turbines is low.

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