By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
LONDON (Reuters) - A power cable connecting cross-border wind farms in the North Sea to Britain and the Netherlands could be in place after 2023, if the plan secures approval, a partner in the project said.
Swedish utility Vattenfall [VATN.UL] and Dutch-German grid operator TenneT agreed last week to conduct a feasibility study on the link, called WindConnector, which Vattenfall says could lower the costs of connecting offshore wind farms to the shore.
Gunnar Groebler, Vattenfall's senior vice president for wind business, told Reuters the study would be completed by the end of 2018 or early 2019, and the link could be in place after 2023.
He said the cable would help reduce the costs of wind power, which now has to compete with smaller subsidies. He said the project "makes the whole business case much more attractive."
The new link could offer Britain an additional source of renewable energy as it works to phase out coal power by 2025.
TenneT and Vattenfall will need to address regulatory issues, such as how wind farms linked to the cable will be treated under subsidy schemes in their respective countries.
"Obviously we have a tonne of regulatory questions on that. When a wind farm feeds to one country and another country, how is that treated from support scheme perspective, renewable balance?" said Groebler.
Vattenfall has estimated that the cable would likely have 400 to 500 megawatts (MW) capacity, but the partners have yet to confirm the final cable capacity and which wind farms it would link to. The cost also has to be determined, Groebler said.
Vattenfall wants to be involved in new wind farm projects in Britain and the Netherlands, as well as Germany, Denmark, France and the Nordic nations, Chief Executive Magnus Hall told Reuters on the sidelines of the firm's capital markets day.
Vattenfall already runs wind farms with total generation capacity of 2.8 gigawatt (GW) in Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Germany, with a further 0.7 GW under construction.
(Editing by Edmund Blair)