Norway has decided to postpone a decision on whether to allow the construction of NorthConnect, a major subsea cable in the North Sea.
Planning for the 2-billion-euro ($2.17 billion) project, which is expected to link Norway and Scotland, is still going on, but the government needs more data on the market impact from other power cables that are currently being built before a decision can be made, Energy Minister Tina Bru said.
“The Norwegian and Nordic power systems are now undergoing major changes, and they are happening fast. In the future, the two new cables to Germany and the UK will be put into operation. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has concluded that there is an insufficient basis for deciding on the license applications from NorthConnect, as required by the Energy Act,” Bru told national broadcaster NRK.
By 31 March, the Parliament's Energy and Business committee will issue a recommendation on the dispute over this overseas cable. The choice now lies between a further postponement and a "no" to NorthConnect.
Liberals MP Ketil Kjenseth, a keen supporter of the project, stressed that it's not a blank refusal. His party previously warned that Norwegian municipalities will “lose billions of kroner” if NorthConnect is not built.
“I don't look at this as a death knell. I am still an optimist”, he told the news outlet ABC Nyheter.
By contrast, Reds leader Bjørnar Moxnes called the postponement “frivolous”, calling on the government to stick to a clear “no”.
“This creates great uncertainty for the industry, people and power companies. Especially in the situation we are in now, we need clear signals of what will happen in the future”, Moxnes said.
The project is partly owned by Swedish energy group Vattenfall and Norwegian state-owned power producer Statkraft and is seen as controversial as many Norwegian lawmakers fear rising grid costs and power prices. A previous report deemed the project “socio-economically profitable”, as the brunt of the price hike will be borne by Norwegian power producers.