UK Investors Seek Undersea Solar Power Link for Europe, North America

Jul 3, 2024

Solar power is sustainable. It can slash your power bill. It may even increase the value of homes with rooftop panels. But there's a drawback. Those panels don’t produce energy after the sun goes down.   

A group of British investors and energy experts think they can solve the issue. They’ve proposed undersea cables that link Europe and North America. The cables would transmit excess renewable power back and forth. The pathway would depend on where the sun is and isn’t shining. It might sound crazy. But it’s being done on a smaller scale among countries in Europe.    

“When the sun is high in London, it’d be breakfast time in New York where people could use UK or European power to cook breakfast,” project backer Simon Ludlam told The Telegraph. “And then five hours later, the sun will be high in America, so solar and other power stations there will provide the power for cooking supper in the UK.”  

Ludlam and his colleagues say that when the sun is highest in Europe, it makes more energy than is needed. The same is true in the Americas, they say. Under their plan, high-voltage cables would link the UK, France, Canada and the northeastern US. 

The UK already relies on such power swaps with Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway. Plus, a project to connect Britain with the sunlight-rich Sahara Desert in Morocco has begun. When finished, it'll produce 6 gigawatts of power from Moroccan solar and wind farms for the UK’s grid. That's roughly 8% of Britain’s electrical power demand.  

These cables make a lot of sense," clean energy backer Laurent Segalen told The Telegraph. “It also means we no longer have to buy dirty fossil fuels from Russia and the Middle East.”      

Reflect: What are some ways that different countries or regions can work together to improve access to clean energy and reduce costs?

Photo of solar farm from Unsplash courtesy of Nuno Marques.

According to the passage, what was the problem with solar power mentioned at the beginning? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. It is too expensive.
b. It increases the cost of electricity.
c. It doesn't generate energy after the sun goes down.
d. It cannot be installed under the ocean.
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