In parliament >> Interconnected Europe

3rd November 2014


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  • EU ,
  • Renewable ,
  • Generation

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IEMA

I attended a European renewable energy meeting in October, where all the talk was about getting the renewable energy that is produced to where it can best be used.

I attended a European renewable energy meeting in October, where all the talk was about getting the renewable energy that is produced to where it can best be used.

Germany, for example, simply does not have the capacity to move the renewable electricity from where it is predominantly produced in the north, to where it is needed in the south.

Scandinavian countries are likely to have a permanent surplus of low-carbon energy, largely driven by hydropower, but as yet insufficient connection with countries, while Iceland has loads of low carbon, geothermal electricity and, with a population the size of Bristol, no prospect of using much of it internally.

All these sources of low-carbon power would be available to the UK if the country was wired up to receive them. Britain already possesses some “interconnectors”, but the existing links are not sufficient to meet the 10% of capacity demand the EU is targeting between each member state. A programme of interconnection with Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Germany and others would get the UK to that figure in a relatively short period.

But there remain two problems with this obvious way forward. The first is, I believe, the mistaken approach to interconnector development by the government – they are assumed to make money in their own right and are not, as yet, supported in their development in the way that new nuclear and gas plants are.

The second problem is that it is not politically fashionable to advocate more cooperation with Europe, even though the evidence suggests that our energy security would be far better served by pooling it with our neighbours. But try telling that to those who are intent on pulling up the drawbridge. I hope we will not be blinded by those considerations to what is overwhelmingly in the UK’s own national interest.

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