U.K. Parliament committee estimates 25% lower costs to connect offshore wind farms to land by linking Britain's electric network to mainland Europe with a super grid; creating grid could cost up to €200B eventually, says executive

LOS ANGELES , September 22, 2011 () – The cost of connecting offshore wind farms to land could be cut by one-quarter if Britain’s electric network were to be linked to mainland Europe with a super grid, according to a U.K. Parliament panel, reported Bloomberg News on Sept. 22.

Compatibility of the connection with a super grid was recommended, the Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Committee stated in an e-mailed study today.

Integrating and interconnecting an offshore network would be a cost-efficient way to tap the energy resources and prepare for a European super grid, said Tim Yeo, a lawmaker with Britain’s Conservatives.

Connecting the offshore energy projects one-by-one could become “prohibitively expensive,” Yeo said, according to the article, which was carried on Businessweek.com.

The super grid has been promoted by companies such as Siemens AG, General Electric Co. and National Grid PLC, which see it as a better way to meet electricity demand with intermittent power generated across Europe, from such sources as solar and wind.

The British government wants to boost offshore wind capacity to 18 gigawatts (GW) in 2020 from 1.3 GW now, Bloomberg reported.

A super grid would harness the power in an integrated way, to the maximum extent and at the lowest cost, Eddie O’Connor, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd. told the panel in its evidence-gathering meetings.

Building the grid could cost €200 billion (US$275 billion) eventually, with €28 billion for the first stage by 2020, said O’Connor, who is president of Friends of the Supergrid, reported Bloomberg.

However, if the capital outlay in that first stage was accompanied by €100 billion for building 25 GW of offshore wind power, within eight years it would cancel out the expenditure to build and operate the same amount of gas-fired power production, said O’Connor.

The Friends of the Supergrid has 21 members, including Dublin-based Mainstream, Siemens of Munich, Connecticut-based GE and National Grid of London, Bloomberg reported.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg News, New York, New York, on Sept. 22, 2011.

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