Alex Salmond hails green energy work by Scots and Norwegians

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Scotland and Norway could make a huge contribution to Europe's green energy targets, the first minister has said.

Alex Salmond highlighted the renewables links between the two countries during a visit to Norway.

Work is under way to link hydro power from Norway with wind energy from Scotland.

The Scotland-Norway interconnector, which received a European Union grant of about £553,00 in March, aims to achieve this.

Scottish and Southern energy, along with three Norwegian energy companies and Swedish utility firm Vattenfall are all involved in the NorthConnect scheme.

The Scottish European Green Energy Centre has also contributed a grant of about £40,000 to support early survey work.

In addition, a cable route study is now under way along with environmental studies in both the UK and Norway.

Mr Salmond welcomed the progress and also announced the launch of an online "hydro heritage" project involving Historic Scotland and Norwegian partners, which aims to log the development of the hydro industry.

Both Scotland and Norway are "blessed with a wealth of natural resources", Mr Salmond said, and that the development of hydro-power technology between the two countries had "many parallels".

He said: "Building on our hydro heritage and offshore energy engineering expertise gained from North Sea oil and gas, our nations are clearly both well placed to make a huge contribution to Europe's green energy ambitions.

"From world-leading offshore wind, marine and hydro energy in the north of Europe to massive solar power in the south, we have huge natural renewable resources, which must be harnessed in the most efficient way to deliver benefits for all the continent's citizens.

"The NorthConnect project is an excellent example of the kind of grid interconnection that will be needed across the continent to ensure we maximise the contribution of all European nations to reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels, increase energy security and meet targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy generation."

NorthConnect chairman Odd Øygarden welcomed the Scottish government's support for the project.

He predicted a future with "huge levels of wind-based generation of electricity in the UK and the North Sea", and said: "NorthConnect connecting the Nordic hydro-based electricity production with this wind generation will create a unique renewable quality in security of supply in the European electricity market."

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