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The Scottish government believes the North Sea could become host to an underwater renewable energy grid, supplying power from wind, wave and tidal power across Europe, but England could be left out in the cold. A new study from Scotland looks at the possibility of a supergrid between Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, but doesn’t mention Scotland’s big neighbor to the south.
Yes, Scotland is still part of the UK, and most of England’s east coast is also on the North Sea, but the word “England” doesn’t even show up once in the 21-page study and “UK” is only used in a couple of footnotes. It might just be an oversight, but the possible snub comes during the same week in which the UK government made a filing with the Commission on Scottish Devolution questioning the Scottish government’s powers covering energy.
Political wrangling aside, there’s a big push for wind and marine power in the UK, not just in Scotland, so the area could become a hub for renewable energy in the region. In October, the UK government said it surpassed Denmark to take the top spot in offshore wind power in the world, boasting 590 megawatts of offshore wind vs. Denmark’s 423 megawatts.
Sweden’s Vattenfall just announced plans to invest in wind power in the UK, teaming up with ScottishPower Renewables to make joint bids on offshore wind development, including areas in the North Sea. The two plan to build 6,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity.
ScottishPower, part of Spain’s Iberdrola, is also looking at marine power, releasing plans in September to build up to 60 megawatts of tidal power capacity in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK’s Crown Estate, which owns the seabed around the country, recently opened up the Pentland Firth off of northern Scotland for commercial wave and tidal projects, aiming to generate more than 700 MW of power by 2020.
There are already big projects going on in England and if there was Scottish-only supergrid, it would lose out on connecting to the planned 1-gigawatt London Array offshore wind farm as well as the Wave Hub project.
A recent plan from Greenpeace for a €20 billion ($25.032 billion) renewable energy grid in the area was much more inclusive, with both England and Scotland making the list, as well as France. However, the environmental group did neglect Sweden, which only has access to the North Sea through the Skagerrak strait.
The Scottish government is still working on its plans for a North Sea supergrid and estimated that it would need £409,200 ($606,475) and about 17 months to do a full study on the project.