Work Begins on New Electricity Interconnector

           Energy Markets
channel tunnel map

Work has begun on the new ElecLink electricity connection between Britain and France, which will enable transmission of up to 1GW of power through the Channel Tunnel in either direction.

The project will increase the interconnected capacity between the two countries by 50%. The UK is currently a net importer through the existing IFA (Interconnexion France-Angleterre), a 2GW connection that was commissioned in 1986 and uses a 45km subsea cable.

The new connection will provide greater flexibility, with the opportunity to import more power when prices are cheaper. However, it could also result in increased volatility at times of supply constraints on either side of the Channel, as the markets become more greatly connected. Overall, increased flexibility is likely to have a positive impact, although it should be noted that we do not yet know how the costs of imports and exports of energy might be impacted by Brexit.

Channel Tunnel CEO, Jacques Gounon, said of the new project, “It brings huge security and safety about the supply of energy in Great Britain and on top of that, on the French side, it brings the possibility to get some green energy.”

The energy industry also sees the new interconnector as forming part of a possible electricity supergrid, which would connect countries and continents, allowing access to renewables on a bulk scale. Supergrids enable power to be transported to areas where it is most needed from areas where resources are plentiful. Increasingly, renewables are leading us to focus on local distributed generation, but this large-scale approach could transport wind power from the Arctic and solar power from the desert.

Navigant Research published a report, Supergrids, last year which forecasts that investments towards a global supergrid will increase from $8.3 billion in 2016 to $10.2 billion by the end of 2025. There are, of course, numerous barriers to the success of supergrids, such as political will, regulatory coordination, and international cooperation in both the short and the long term. The full report includes examples of supergrid initiatives across North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific, concluding that the Asia-Pacific represents the largest regional market for supergrid investment at present.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.