Prime Minister David Cameron has given his backing to plans to build a North Sea super-grid to wire up Europe’s electricity networks.

Creating a huge offshore construction opportunity for the installation of subsea cables, the UK Prime Minister announced today that European energy ministers will work together on finalising plans to turn the supper-grid into reality through an inter-governmental North Sea Offshore Grid Initiative which will look at linking offshore wind farms.

The announcement came as part of a UK-Baltic Nordic summit taking place in London today where it was agreed that NSOGI will share experience with the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan

Chris Huhne, Britain’s Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, stated: “Europe’s future lies in green energy and Britain wants to work with other countries to make the most of the clean energy potential in and around the North Sea.
 
“Today we’re stepping up our efforts with our European partners to develop a North Sea electricity super-grid that will help secure our energy supplies in a low carbon way.”

Already around 100 Gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity is planned for the North Sea and the super-grid could connect these wind farms together to allow power produced from the various site to be distributed throughout the EU.

According to the European Wind Energy Association, that 100 Gigawatts of generating capacity could supply up to 10% of European energy demand

Currently the UK is leading the league table of installed wind generating capacity across Europe, with 1,341 Megawatts, followed by Denmark with 854 MW, the Netherlands with 249 MW;  Belgium has 195 MW and Sweden has164 MW. Together Norway, Germany, Finland and Ireland have 145 MW, according to the EWEA.

Nine EU member states signed up to a North Sea Supergrid Initiative in December 2009 including the UK and in February 2010, Norway, also signed up to back the project which is aimed at building a high voltage direct current cabling system across the North Sea to allow power transmitted from wind farms to reach regions across Europe.

Already a lobby group has been formed to promote the project, comprising commercial interests. Friends of the Supergrid comprises existing players in the renewable wind energy market including Mainstream Renewable Power, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Prysmian Cables and Systems, Siemens and Visser, and Dutch goup Smit Marine Contracting.

FOSG claims to be “…the only representative body that combines companies in sectors that will deliver the High Voltage Direct Current infrastructure and related technologies, together with companies that will develop, install, own and operate that infrastructure.”  The group was formed in London in March last year, saying it was set up to progress policy towards construction of a pan-European Offshore Supergrid..