September 19, 2017 / 2:03 PM / a year ago

Norway election outcome lifts hopes for power cable to Scotland - project head

OSLO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The prospects for a planned 1.4 gigawatt (GW) power interconnector linking Norway and Scotland have improved following the re-election of Norway’s right-wing government this month, the project’s chief said.

NorthConnect’s 650-km subsea cable could meet about a quarter of Scotland’s peak demand with clean energy from Norwegian hydroelectric dams and wind turbines.

Opposition Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere had said before the election he would not back the NorthConnect concession application if his party took power.

“The election result is a positive result for NorthConnect,” project chairman Odd Oeygarden told Reuters.

The expected cost of the cable amounts to as much as 2 billion euros ($2.39 billion) and an investment decision is due in 2019, after the government and regulator have considered its construction and trading licence applications.

“Both applications are now submitted and... next year we will see the results of this process,” Oeygarden said.

Norwegian trade unions that back Labour also oppose the project, fearing it could lead to higher power prices in Norway and make the country less attractive for energy-hungry industries.

Solberg’s tax-cutting Conservatives narrowly defeated the Labour-led opposition in the Sept. 10-11 parliamentary election with her promises of steady management of the oil-dependent economy.

The Norwegian oil and energy ministry said before the election that it would evaluate the interconnector’s economic costs and benefits once it has received a submission.

Oeygarden said Britain also supported the project.

“The authorities and officials in the UK have a strategic positive view to interconnectors. We had discussions during the last weeks and got positive signals,” he said.

If the project gets the green light, it could supply Scotland with clean energy from Norway from late 2022 or 2023.

NorthConnect is co-owned by Swedish utility Vattenfall and Norwegian power firms E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse. ($1 = 0.8354 euros) (Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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