Workboat operators will be heartened by the announcement this week from specialist asset investment company Imera that it plans to build North Sea and Atlantic electricity grids, connecting key markets and offshore wind farms as the foundation for a pan-European offshore electricity network.
Commenting on the EU announcement, Rory O’Neill, Imera’s CEO said, ‘There are two main factors which are driving the development of the North Sea Grid, the EU’s call for increased interconnection across Europe as a priority issue, and the EU’s target of 20% of its required energy from renewable sources by 2020. Imera’s EuropaGrid will not only fast track increased cross border interconnection in Europe, but also enable enormous growth in renewable generation developments.’
The Imera EuropaGrid project will comprise of two networks. EuropaGrid North Sea will connect Scandinavia, Western Europe and the UK, with the first phase representing an investment of €2.76bn. EuropaGrid Atlantic, connecting the UK, Ireland, France and Spain, will see a first phase investment of €1.65bn. Imera is already developing this, with the first cables coming into operation in 2010.
The key benefits of the EuropaGrid project to the EU include a single electricity market which will ensure security of energy supply, increased competition, and more efficient energy trading within the EU.
Connecting offshore wind will drive the development of renewable technologies and projects with existing and innovative transmission technology. EuropaGrid promises to solve the grid connection problems many wind power developers face whilst helping to stabilise the power flow coming from these large offshore wind farms.
As a private sector developer Imera funds its own development costs and says that none are passed on to taxpayers or electricity users.
Imera is an asset investment company specialising in the development of subsea power interconnectors and power transmission grids and has recently received EU approval for its first interconnectors linking Ireland and the UK. At present, Imera holds five licenses and is actively developing interconnectors between Ireland and the UK, France and the UK, and Belgium and the UK. These projects form the foundation for EuropaGrid.
‘Because we are a private company, we can build networks faster and cheaper than most regulated organisations, O’Neill continued. ‘We also have access to the largest fleet of specialized cable laying vessels and marine engineering expertise through our parent company, Oceanteam. We truly believe that EuropaGrid is the future of electricity in Europe and we have the in house expertise, technical knowledge, and organisational capability to make it happen.’
Imera is currently raising over €100m in investment to finance the development of the first phase of EuropaGrid. It claims it can complete projects within the three year deadline for interconnector schemes set as part of the EU’s €5bn stimulus package, enabling Europe to benefit from a single electricity market while harnessing the power of offshore renewable energy across the EU states.