Cross-border power flows may be disrupted as Sweden replaces old grid

OSLO (Reuters) - Sweden’s plans to renew its power grid in the densely populated southwest region may disrupt supplies that run through the area to neighboring states, operator Svenska Kraftnat (SVK) said.

Some 400 kms (250 miles) of electricity lines will be gradually replaced in the next decade, in an area through which Swedish power and supplies from Norway, with its abundant and cheap hyrdropower, flow to Denmark, Germany and other countries.

SVK did not give details of the extent of any disruption to its interconnections, as the upgrade was still in the planning phase. But it said the risk of unscheduled interruptions or blackouts would rise if the work was not carried out.

“In 2018, the oldest parts of the transmission grid’s 400 kV power lines will approach an age of 70 years and parts of the 220 kV grid are even older... so old that it is no longer enough to maintain them,” SVK said in a statement to Reuters.

Replacing the grid along Sweden’s west coast would cost roughly 3 billion Swedish crowns ($342 million) and would require decommissioning of some local lines that are used as international interconnectors, it said.

“The existing power line needs to be out of commission for periods while the new one is being built,” it said.

Upgrading the grid is only part of the renovation taking place between 2018 and 2027, SVK said, adding that further components in the national network would also be renewed.

About 30 substations, 15 control facilities and 10 reactors and transformers are due for renewal, Svenska Kraftnat said, adding that nearly 500 high-voltage devices would be replaced.

“If the power lines are not replaced before they get too old, the risk of interruptions increases and so does the risk of blackouts,” SVK said in a statement.

Power line replacements will not cause risk to the electricity supply of the energy-hungry data centers of the region, it added.

($1 = 8.7686 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos; Editing by Edmund Blair