Electricity is broadly considered to be the most versatile form of energy available. It can be utilized for heating, artificial light or to drive machines. The abundance of electrical energy is a key aspect for any form of industrial or economical development.
Electricity can be generated either with non-renewable base (oil, coal or gas), a renewable base (Hydro-, Wind-, Solarpower) or by nuclear power base. All forms of generation are used in the Arctic.
Electricity needs distribution via power-grids to the end consumers that can be anything from small households to large factories. This electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy. At its heart is the transmission line which can be land-based (masts) or marine (cable).
Energy transmission starts from the power plant to an electrical substation close to where the demand is located. This is not to be confused with the electric-power distribution, where the local interface between high-voltage substations and customers is. When several transmission lines are connected, they become a transmission network.
Within the Arctic the challenge consists of the fact that the region is sparsely populated. Thus the establishment of an energy infrastructure, especially a unified one is a significant challenge. Many of the energy systems are therefore "energy islands".
The establishment of transmission lines is on one side a necessity, on the other hand much disputed as recent examples from Norway, the Hardangervidda controversy show.
The generation of common electricity markets, where electricity is traded like a commodity with variable prices, such as planned for the European North, is a step towards sustainability and consumption control.
Together with smart grid structures it can help to foster a responsible use of energy and reduce the overall consumption of electricity.