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21.07.2015 Plans for North Sea super grid made a top priority

Plans for a North Sea “supergrid” linking Scottish offshore windfarms to Europe has been made a top priority by European commissioners.

The proposed £230billion North Sea Electricity Grid project could deliver confidence to investors in a number of planned offshore wind projects in Scotland, and there are hopes construction on the project could start in 18 months.

European Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete is understood to have confirmed that seed funding for the interconnector project could be financed through the new £220billion Investment Plan for Europe fund, with private sector investment to make up the rest.

Plans for the supergrid connecting nine European countries were initially revealed in 2009 but have been affected by delays. Up to 280 windfarms are expected to be built in the North Sea over the next two decades, but better connections are needed to realise the industry’s full potential.

Final decisions to press ahead with the 140-turbine Beatrice wind farm in the Moray Firth and the Neart Na Gaoithe project off the coast of Fife are expected to be made early next year.

A North Sea grid would allow green energy produced in Scotland to be stored in Norwegian and Swedish pump storage hydro schemes until demand peaked elsewhere in Europe.