In case there was any doubt about why Britain needs to lay more sub-sea power cables to its neighbours, the latest data show that the country is Europe’s worst international trader in electricity.

Data from the transmission operator trade body, ENTSO-E, shows that Britain comes bottom in all Europe, for cross-border electricity flows expressed as a percentage of national power consumption. The ENTSO-E data excludes Cyprus and Malta, which may or may not perform as badly.

I have compiled the chart below using the latest ENTSO-E data available, from January to September 2014.

While Britain is an island, and so has some geographical disadvantages, that is not sufficient reason to explain why its electric grid is so isolated. The country has a proud heritage as a trading nation; the sea is not an insurmountable barrier. In addition, it has among the highest wholesale power prices in Europe; has recently faced warnings about a rising threat of blackouts; and is presently investing in extremely expensive nuclear and offshore wind power.

EU electricity flows, Jan-Sept 2014    Send article as PDF   
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