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UK and Denmark launch Viking Link underwater cable project

View of Viking Link by sunset
View of Viking Link by sunset Copyright National Grid
Copyright National Grid
By Osama Rizvi, economist
Published on
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As the world grapples with climate change and weather imbalances, the UK and Denmark have begun a joint venture with the potential to transport enough electricity to power up to 2.5 million UK homes and save millions of pounds in home energy costs.

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The opening of the Viking Link cable route running from the UK to Denmark is an important milestone in European connectivity. With a promise of delivering electricity to 2.5 million homes in the UK and a 1.4 GW capacity, both countries stand to benefit from this endeavour. 

The Viking Link subsea cable is the world's largest underwater cable of high commission capacity with the potential to transport enough electricity to power up to 2.5 million homes in the UK and help the country save £500 million within the first 10 years of operation.

How the Viking Link works

The cable route runs from the east coast of Lincolnshire in the UK to the west coast of Jutland in Denmark. Construction of the Viking Link started in 2019 through a project that embodies the design sensibility of Siemens Energy as the electric assets on both sides have been designed and installed by Siemens.

The interconnector will be fully functional in the time span of certain phases.

Initially, it will work at the capacity of 800MW but its capacity will rise over time to 1.4 GW. Within the year, both countries' transmission system operators will be working to upgrade the system to ensure it runs at full capacity. Once there, the project will revolutionise the energy sector of both the states.

It is expected that, by 2030, the interconnector will constructively contribute to aiding the climate crisis by avoiding around 100 million tons of carbon emissions in the UK alone. Also, almost 90% of the imported energy will be from zero-carbon energy sources.

The benefits for the UK

The project will benefit the UK on various levels. It will ensure energy security by reducing the risk of power shortages and it will enable the UK to import clean energy from Denmark, a country which has a significant amount of renewable energy. 

In order to meet climate change targets, the project can help to reduce carbon emissions. It demonstrates the technological innovation of the energy sector which plays an integral role in overcoming shared challenges. With demand management, decarbonisation targets and ageing infrastructure, the Viking Link subsea has turned out to be of substantial significance for the UK. It enhances the resilience of the UK's electricity landscape and ensures cross-border collaborations.

The project will not only provide huge benefits for UK consumers but also will contribute to the global climate change threat by ensuring cheaper and lower carbon power. According to reports, it is expected Viking Link will save approximately 600,000 tons of emissions in the first year of operation. That is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road.

The benefits for Denmark

The deal successfully provides Denmark with a market to export the excessive electricity energy it produces from wind power. By enabling the export of renewable energy, it signifies Denmark's position as a leader in sustainable energy and inspires others to follow suit.

This interconnector cable incorporates advanced technology such as High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission that operates with advanced control and communication systems to manage flow of electricity over long distances. The mass-impregnated cables have the capacity to withstand high electrical stresses and deep-water pressures.

Despite the existing underwater cable projects such as NordLink and North Sea Link, the Viking Link Subsea cable will be one of the longest interconnectors in place, being some 765 kilometres long. It represents a substantial engineering achievement by connecting two distant markets.

EU interconnection targets

This is an important step in the large scheme of the EU electricity connection target as it plans to have 15% connectivity by 2023. It essentially means that each country should have a cable network that allows 15% of the electricity produced on its territory to be sent to neighbouring countries. So far, 16 countries are on track for this venture.

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