Presently, there are operational interconnectors with a transmission capacity of more than 15 GW in the European seas. According to the ENTSO-E’s Ten-Year Network Development Plan 2014, by 2030, some 20.000 km of new subsea cables are needed, for an estimated investment cost of €50 billion. Among these projects, the European Commission has identified numerous projects of common interest that, as such, may benefit from accelerated licensing procedures, improved regulatory conditions, and access to financial support. This represents an overall additional transmission capacity of more than 20 GW for the next 10 years.
The environmental effects associated with subsea cables are disturbance, underwater noise, heat dissipation, electromagnetic fields and contamination. They can occur during the laying, operation and/or removal of the cables.
The challenges to assess and understand the effects of subsea cables on the marine environment as well as the possible cumulative effects are real for permitting bodies, developers, investors and environmental protection organisations. There are uncertainties due to knowledge gaps that need to be filled e.g. by collecting relevant environmental data and making them available to authorities and practitioners across borders.
RGI intends to better understand the effects of subsea cables on the marine environment, identify key environmental information and possible knowledge gaps. RGI is also willing to explore the possibilities of using the grid infrastructure to raise environmental data that may contribute to closing knowledge gaps and supporting permitting procedures and environmental protection.