There are delays in the plan of interconnecting the German and Norwegian electricity supply networks by means of a direct power link between the two countries for the first time.
The cable with a capacity of approximately 1,400 megawatt of the Norwegian-Swiss consortium NorGer KS ("NorGer") is intended to deliver German wind power to Norway or Norwegian hydropower to Germany and is furthermore supposed to help balancing fluctuations with the generation of electricity from renewable energies as well as to enhance the expansion of renewable energies in general. In order to do so, a 570 km-long high-voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine cable is to be installed at the bottom of the North Sea and come ashore at the North Sea coast in Lower Saxony, Germany. There, a converter station is under construction in order to connect it to the German high-voltage network. The interconnection of the two aforementioned energy markets by means of an additional connecting cable with the project name NordLink has not been completed yet, either. In contrast to that, an HVDC submarine cable of the same design with a capacity of 700 MW, the so-called project NorNed project which interconnects the Norwegian and Dutch power supply networks, has already been in operation since 2008.
After the project NorGer was already granted a exemption permit by the German Federal Network Agency last autumn, the regional planning procedure for the NorGer electricity cable was also completed by the competent government office of Oldenburg, so that the public works planning procure currently still needs to be passed as part of the two-stage authorization procedure. The competent authorities for the authorization of a respective submarine cable are the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency ( "BSH") on the one hand and the respective State authority on the other hand. While the responsibility of the BSH covers the Exclusive Economic Area (12 to 200 nautical miles) off the coast, the State authorities - the Government Office of Oldenburg in the present case - are in charge of the authorization of the cable route in the area of the territorial sea.
In connection with the exemption permit granted by the Federal Network Agency, the latter has exempted the envisaged connecting cable between Germany and Norway from certain energy-regulation provisions. Exemption permits may be granted for new direct-current interconnection cables on the basis of the European Regulation No. 1228/2003. In this way, corresponding cables can, among other things, be exempted from the stipulations on the use of congestion incomes as well as the stipulations regarding the connection and access to the grid in order to thus improve the economic incentives for a realization of a project. However, the requirements to be granted an exemption permit are that the investments have a positive effect on competition in the energy market on the one hand, and that the respective project could not be put into practice without an exemption permit in view of the risks involved on the other hand.
According to corresponding press releases, however, the EU Commission, which has also dealt with this issue, expressed concerns with regard to an exemption permit. According to reports, the current concerns relate, among other things, to the circumstance that the other two aforementioned cable projects between Norway and the European mainland, NordNed and NordLink, were not exempted from the regulation and that NorGer is feared to be given a competitive advantage in this regard provided that an exemption permit will be granted. Furthermore, there are contradictory statements regarding the existing capacities in the Norwegian electricity grid. In response to corresponding reports, the Norwegian-Swiss consortium withdrew its requests for the grant of an exemption permit and waived the exemption permit that had already been granted. A new application is expected to be filed in summer this year.
Please refer to the following articles for detailed information regarding questions regarding the exemption of cable projects from the European regulation regime by national regulatory authorities and the EU Commission: