The Energy Central cluster in Northumberland has passed a major milestone following the completion of the world’s longest subsea electricity link, connecting the North East and Norway.
Energy Central – a partnership between Advance Northumberland, Port of Blyth, Northumberland County Council and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult – says Blyth is now home to a major new source of 1.4GW of renewable energy after the subsea project was finished, in a €1.6bn joint investment by National Grid and Norwegian system operator Statnett.
Now operational, the North Sea Link is a 450-mile subsea electricity cable between Blyth and the Norwegian village of Kvilldal, which can transport enough clean energy to power up to 1.4m homes.
The link has enabled the direct sharing of renewable energy between the UK and Norway for the first time and National Grid estimates it will save 23m tonnes of carbon by the end of the decade, representing a landmark source of green energy for Energy Central.
It also marks a major move forward for Energy Central, which is aiming to attract more inward investment into the area, including Northumberland Energy Park.
Offering growth opportunities for companies operating in the offshore energy, subsea, decommissioning, battery manufacturing and renewable energy markets, it has almost 200 hectares of quay -linked development sites with access to low carbon power.
The energy park currently has a power capacity of up to 100 MVA, making it capable of supplying facilities which require large-scale energy use, and renewable energy sources provide much of Energy Central’s power.
EDF’s Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm lies half a mile off the coast, with five 8MW turbines inked to the EDF substation on the Northumberland Energy Park site at Energy Central.
EDF has also recently confirmed plans to build phase two of the wind farm off the coast of Northumberland, using floating offshore wind technology. Once completed it will be among the first projects of its kind in English waters.
Energy Central’s ability to provide major sources of clean renewable energy also played a key role in attracting lithium-ion battery manufacturer Britishvolt to the site. The £2.6bn potential investment would be one of the UK’s largest ever industrial investments.
Production at the site is planned to start in 2023 and by the final phase of the project, it will produce more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries per year for the UK automotive industry.
Coun Jeff Watson, cabinet member at Northumberland County Council and chair of Advance Northumberland, said: “The North Sea Link is hugely significant for both Energy Central and the development of North East England’s energy infrastructure.
“This world-first project will further enhance the appeal of Energy Central to national and international manufacturing organisations working across the offshore wind, subsea, renewable energy and EV markets, and complements the cluster’s already extensive assets.
“North Sea Link is an outstanding achievement and will play a key role in the UK’s journey to net zero.”