NordLink – a landmark project enabling a more interconnected Europe

2015-03-19 - The landmark NordLink HVDC interconnector will help integrate more renewables and facilitate power exchange between the Norwegian and German power grids

NordLink, a 1,400 megawatt (MW) interconnection rated at ±525 kilovolt (kV), will be the first direct power link between the German and Norwegian electricity markets once it is completed at the end of 2019. Traveling a total of 623 kilometers (km), NordLink is a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission link which will enable power trading of renewable energy.

In recent years, Germany has significantly expanded wind and solar power generation, which must be used as it is produced. But now Germany’s surplus renewable power can be transmitted via NordLink to help Norway cope with high power demand and conserve water in its many hydropower reservoirs. At the other end of the link, Norway can export hydropower to help Germany meet fluctuating daily power demand.

In this way, NordLink fulfills three significant reasons for its construction. Firstly, it supports the EU’s target for CO2 reduction by allowing greater integration of renewable energy. It also balances out fluctuations in demand, both daily and seasonal, with the vast amount of hydropower in Norway being utilized as a battery to balance the German wind generation. And finally, it offers security of supply: interconnecting grids result in higher availability.

One part of a bigger picture

ABB will design, engineer, supply and commission two ±525 kV, 1,400 MW converter stations, using its Voltage Sourced Converter (VSC) technology, called HVDC Light®. One station will be situated near Tonstad in southern Norway and the other near Wilster in northern Germany. ABB will also design, manufacture and install the 525 kV mass impregnated (MI) cable system in the German sector, with a route of 154 km submarine and 54 km underground.

Upon completion, NordLink will be Europe's longest HVDC link and the 525 kV rated voltage of the cables will be the highest ever attained with a traditional MI cable system. ABB is the first manufacturer to offer a tested and complete cable system for both MI and extruded cable at the 525 kV level, which ensures smooth, reliable power transmissions with low electrical losses. The link will have a record capacity to transmit 1,400 MW of electricity, enough to meet the power needs of about 3.6 million German households.

NordLink isn’t the first cross-border interconnection that ABB has built in Europe during the last decade. For example, in 2008 it commissioned the 700 MW, 580-km NorNed HVDC connection between Norway and the Netherlands, the world’s longest submarine high-voltage cable link.

Other ABB-built European interconnections include a 350 MW link between Estonia and Finland (Estlink) in 2006; an 800 MW link between Finland and Sweden (Fenno-Skan 2) in 2011; a 1,000 MW link between the UK and the Netherlands in 2010 (BritNed); and a 500 MW link between Ireland and the UK in 2013 (Eirgrid East West Interconnector).

Alongside the growing network of interconnections, NordLink is a cornerstone for a new integrated EU energy market, underlying the link’s importance at both the energy infrastructure and socio-economic level. It is also evidence that cutting-edge technology can support a better world.

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