The reliability of power supplies in Norway and the Netherlands has been substantially increased with the commissioning of a new electricity interconnection between the two countries, say the link’s operators.

TenneT, the Netherlands’ electricity grid operator, and its Norwegian counterpart Statnett have officially opened the NorNed link, which is the longest and most powerful subsea high voltage cable in the world.

TenneT has also started investigating the feasibility of a new cable between Denmark and the Netherlands, named Cobra.

The 700 MW, 580 km NorNed link will make an important contribution to power supply reliability in Norway and the Netherlands, and will also help in the creation of a strong European power market. It has also exceeded financial expectations since it began commercial operations in May.

NorNed is jointly operated by Statnett and TenneT and will transport electricity from Norway to the Netherlands and vice versa. It has so far transported a total of 1.8 million MWh and brought a return of EUR70 million.

The high voltage direct current (HVDC) equipment for NorNed – the first direct link between Norway and the Netherlands – was supplied by ABB. Its completion comes against a backdrop of efforts in Europe to increase grid and energy security and create a single European power market.

The project took a total of ten years to complete – the last three of which were for the actual installation – and required 24 permits from four different countries. It consists of two converter stations – in Eemshaven, Netherlands and Feda, Norway – linking the cable, 420 km of which lies in shallow waters (less than 50 m depth) and 160 km in deeper waters (up to 410 m depth).

“NorNed is a landmark feat of engineering that brings Europe even closer to the goal of creating a reliable, continent-wide electrical network with low environmental impact,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “It is a significant contribution to the quality and reliability of Europe’s power supply.”

NorNed cost EUR600 million and will help the Netherlands to manage peak power loads during the day by importing hydropower from Norway. It also offers the Netherlands with an alternative to fossil-fired generation, and TenneT expects CO2 emissions in the country to be reduced by about 1.7 million tonnes per year.

According to its operators, since openign for business on 6 May NorNed has transported 1.7 million MWh of hydropower from Norway to the Netherlands and 0.1 million MWh of electricity in the other direction. In the last four months the transport capacity of the cable for import was auctioned at an average price of EUR39.29/MW, and for export at an average price of EUR1.42/MW. Its Euro70 million income to date has already exceeded the first year forecast of Euro64 million.