NordLink Plans Power Ahead

ABB has won a $900 million order to connect Norwegian and German power grids.
Published: Tue 21 Apr 2015

Switzerland based ABB has won orders valued at approximately $900 million to supply on-shore HVDC converter stations and the cable system in Germany that will facilitate the first ever interconnection between the Norwegian and German power grids, NordLink.

The orders were granted by a consortium comprising utilities Statnett and TenneT as well as promotional bank KfW.

The link will run between Tonstad in Norway and Wilster in Schleswig-Holstein,Germany. At 623km, of which 516km is subsea cable, it will be the longest HVDC connection in Europe. It will contribute to a more efficient and climate friendly energy system, more renewable energy in both countries and increase security of supply. It is also a cornerstone for the German energy transition.

The interconnector is scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2020. The contract also includes a five-year service agreement.

ABB will design, engineer, supply and commission two 525kV, 1,400MW 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.

As part of the project, ABB will also design, manufacture and install a 525kV mass impregnated (MI) cable system in the German sector, which will include 154km of subsea and 54km of underground cable.

Integrated EU energy market

NordLink will be key in connecting Norway with Germany and has been designated as one of the European Commission’s projects of common interest to help create an integrated European Union energy market.

The link will increase energy security in both countries and support the integration of renewable energy into the countries’ grids by allowing surplus wind and solar power produced in Germany to be transmitted to Norway, and hydroelectric power to be transmitted in the opposite direction. The link will transmit power at a record capacity of 1,400MW, which is enough to supply 3.6 million German households.

ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer said: "The smart combination of renewable power generation, e.g. solar and wind in Germany and hydroelectric in Norway, demonstrates that we can technologically enable a sustainable green energy policy across Europe."

“This is again a major step towards a more integrated European energy market, and an important contribution to the German energy transition. With this interconnector we can exchange energy between two complementary energy systems, with Germany's increasing production of wind power and solar power on one side, and Norway's production from hydropower on the other,” said Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT.

“The NordLink interconnector is one of the major projects in the European energy sector, and will have a large impact on the European energy system. The financing of this project together with our partners is a cornerstone for the turnaround in the German energy market and an important project for KfW. We are proud to be part of it,” said Markus Scheer, member of the Management Board of KfW IPEX-Bank.

Germany and Norway power exchange

Connecting Norwegian hydropower to German wind energy will be mutually beneficial for the countries. When for instance a surplus of wind energy is produced in Germany, this can be exported to Norway via NordLink. The water reservoirs in Norway will then function as natural storage for wind energy by retaining the water in the reservoirs. Likewise, Germany can import the renewable Norwegian hydropower when demand is high.

The interconnector comprises an investment volume of approximately €1.5 - 2 billion. The NordLink project will be realised by the Norwegian TSO Statnett and DC Nordseekabel GmbH & Co. KG, both of whom have a share of 50%. The German TSO TenneT and German promotional bank KfW both have share of 50% in DC Nordseekabel. DC Nordseekabel is responsible for the construction of the German part of the project, including permits.